What’s On Blog

Leishmaniasis: What you need to know

27th July

While Leishmaniasis isn’t something you need to worry about living in the UK, it is something you should consider when adopting a dog from overseas. At Wild at Heart Foundation, we will always strive to be as transparent as possible when it comes to all areas of the Foundation, including adoption. Which is why we feel it’s important for our community to understand the risk factors.

What is Leishmaniasis?

Leishmaniasis is a tropical disease transmitted to dogs via female sand flies only. The sand fly is active between dusk and dawn and is common in all Mediterranean countries. Whilst it is most common in the Mediterranean, the disease is also now present in Bulgaria and Romania too.  When an infected female sand fly bites a dog, the dog is in danger of contracting the disease unless it is protected by an insect repellent collar or approved spot-on preparation.

To find out more about Leishmaniasis, including symptoms and treatment, please download our Canine Leishmaniasis fact sheet here.

I thought you test all of your dogs for diseases before travelling?

Before travelling, all of our dogs are tested for a variety of diseases depending on their country of origin, including Leishmaniasis. With Leishmaniasis, it’s possible for a dog to test negative prior to travelling, and then to start showing signs of the disease months or even years later. This is due to the nature of the disease and its ability to lay dormant and to be asymptomatic, particularly in puppies.

As a precaution, we do have a policy in place which means we will not transport dogs to the UK who test positive for the disease in their country of origin.

Why do we ask our adopters to take responsibility for the risk factor?

Although Leishmaniasis cannot currently be cured, it can be very successfully treated enabling the dog to live a happy, normal and healthy life. But as commonly the case with any kind of veterinary care, treatment can be expensive – especially if you don’t have insurance.

Currently, there are few insurance providers who will cover treatment for Leishmaniasis due to its capacity to lay dormant, be asymptomatic, combined with its potential ability to return a false negative test result.

Because of this, we will always strongly advise that our adopters take due diligence when choosing an insurance policy and to consider all factors carefully to ensure that you have made the best choice for you and your dog. Any medical diagnosis, including Leishmaniasis, is the responsibility of the adopter and not that of the Foundation’s. Any medical cost incurred after adoption are the responsibility of the adopter.

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