Sesame is our Pet Of The Month for May! She originally came to see us in April as her owners noticed some hair loss. Sesame had previously been treated for allergic skin disease, and to this treatment was added a Cytopoint injection, a new a very effective treatment for this condition. However, her itching deteriorated alongside severe crusting skin lesions, so they came back to see vet Anna at the beginning of May. Due to Sesame having been acquired from a rescue in Cyprus, Anna was suspicious her symptoms were indicative of Leishmania (an intracellular parasite).
Leishmania isn't endemic to the UK, as it is primarily spread through bites from sandflies - which do not currently inhabit the UK. Sandflies are widespread in the Mediterranean region, Africa and the Middle East - however, recent evidence indicates that they may be spreading to new areas as a result of climate change. The incubation period can vary from 3 months to several years and is dependent on the immune response of the individual infected dog. Dogs may present with a wide spectrum of clinical signs including skin lesions, enlarged lymph nodes and gastrointestinal upset - if left untreated leishmania can cause renal failure and as a result be fatal. Blood and a needle aspirate from a lymph node was taken to be sent to an external lab to test for leishmania. The results came back as positive, so Sesame was started on treatment consisting of Allopurinol (inhibits Leishmania parasites by interrupting the pathogen’s protein synthesis) and twice daily Megulmine injections (an antiprotozoal).
Drug therapy aims to reduce the parasitic load, decrease shedding of the parasite (infectiveness), and reverse the clinical signs. Treatment typically lasts 12-18 months. Unfortunately due to the nature of the disease after treatment they may remain a carrier, and could become ill again at any time in the future. A check up at the beginning of June with vet Jessica, was extremely promising as Sesame was itching a lot less and hadn’t had any further formation of crusty lesions. As you can see from her before and after photos, the difference is quite remarkable. Well done to Sesame’s owner for being so dedicated in her treatment and to vet Anna for getting her on the road to recovery! Exotic diseases such as Leishmania should always be considered when importing an animal from abroad. If you are concerned about exotic diseases, whether you are travelling abroad with your pet or importing one from over-seas please seek veterinary advice.