Mediterranean Diseases Info


Leishmanisis is a controllable disease that affects some Mediterranean dogs, it is transmitted by the Sandfly Mosquito.

Some dogs which are bitten could get this condition that will then lie dormant in them for their life. As we do not have the Sandfly Mosquito in the UK it is not possible for a dog to transmit the disease to other dogs or people. Most of the dogs that test positive are treated and live long and happy lives with no symptoms at all once they have moved to the UK, once they have been treated first to ensure the blood count is very low.

For a dog to catch Leishmaiasis it has to be bitten by a Sandfly that has recently bitten an infected dog. THE SANDFLY TRANSMITS THE DISEASE NOT THE DOG. The Sandfly has to bite and take the blood of an infected dog and then fly onwards to bite another dog. When the Sandfly bites another dog, it can then transmit infected blood from the previous dog.

We work with rescuers in Spain, who have experience of helping dogs, working hand in hand with vets to gain an understanding of Leishmaniasis. They have learnt that the one significant contributing factor which stands out above all other is STRESS. A dog who has been living under the stress of abandonment, cruelty, parasitic infestation, near starvation, giving birth every 6 months in the street etc. will most certainly test positive. But once that same dog is in a safe and secure environment, free from stress and treated for parasites, the drop in the leishmaniasis count can be dramatic. They also site examples where dogs have become negative. So in many cases, remove the stress, take the dog out of a "Sandfly" country - problem solved.

There is also confusion between the Leishmaiasis which exists in the Mediterranean and the Leishmaniasis spread by the mosquito n the African Continent, where it is known to spread to humans.
Some English vets do not have very much knowledge of the condition which can lead to them giving over cautious advice.

Some Spanish dogs arrive in the UK with Leishmaniasis medication which is not necessary, but given as a precaution.

Common symptoms of Leishmaniasis in dogs are:

Skin Problems very often centralised around the muzzle, ears and eyes. The typical ring around their eyes, like glasses; lesions which result in crusts on or around their eyes, very often bleeding.
Nail Problems long and fast growing nails, very often incredibly hard, sometimes deformed
Other Skin Problems loss of fur all over their body, usually starting with small patches of lesions.
Weight Loss affected dogs will very likely lose their appetite. If Leishmaniasis is already in an advanced state, it will mean that the internal organs (kidneys, liver) are affected and failing. Chronic diarrhoea is also very common.
General affected dogs may have swollen joints and/or swelling of their leg, have a fever and they may be less active and even very very calm.

Whilst Leishmaniasis is not curable, it is controllable in most cases. All the dogs that come from Save A Spanish Spot are tested and if positive then the count is reduced until near negative before they come to the UK. 

Many dogs receiving treatment will live live happily until they are old, just by being treated with Allopurinol. These tablets will be available from Save A Spanish Spot. If the dog arrives with a positive test of Leishmaniasis we supply you with 6 months of Allopurinal to give to the dog. Once the course has finished you need to take your dog to the vets for a Leishmaniasis blood test. If the results come back negative you can stop the tablets and just test the dog yearly for their levels. If the dog comes back with a positive test, you need to treat with another 6 months of Allopurinal tablets and then test again at the end of the course.You carry on with the medication while your dog tests positive. You cease the medication once the dog tests negative. If the dog was negative and later testing comes back positive you just start the medication again.