Let's go back in time and rescue science classes from memory - more specifically, classes on insect-borne diseases. If your memory is good, you probably thought of Chagas' disease, malaria, toxoplasmosis or giardiasis, some of the main evils caused by these tiny and inconvenient beings. What about leishmaniasis? Did it cross your mind?
If not, know that you are not the only one. A Bayer survey heard three thousand Brazilians over 16 years old about the disease and the results are very serious: about 56% of the interviewees never heard of leishmaniasis, and among those who have dogs and cats at home, 53% gave wrong answers when asked about how the disease is transmitted.
Leishmaniasis can affect both animals and humans and is caused by the bite of the infected mosquito. The most serious form of the disease, visceral leishmaniasis, is considered the second most deadly parasitic disease in the world. Tropical countries like Brazil are more likely to present cases of the disease, since the hot climate contributes to the proliferation of mosquitoes throughout the year.
In addition to offering risk of death to humans, the disease can also affect pets, and few tutors are aware of this fact. The Bayer survey also revealed that one in three respondents who heard about the disease was informed by the veterinarian who cares for the family's pet.
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Leishmaniasis is a disease caused by the parasitic protozoan Leishmania infantum, that can be transmitted to both animals and people - considered, therefore, a zoonosis - through the bite of the infected female mosquito Lutzomyia longipalpis (straw mosquito).
Transmission only takes place after the straw mosquito poke a reservoir of the disease, that is, someone who is infected with the protozoan. Inside the mosquito, this parasite matures and is transmitted after the bite in healthy beings that can be dogs, cats and humans. Simple contact with infected people or animals does not cause transmission.
The incubation time of the disease, between the bite and the first symptoms, varies from organism to organism, and can vary between 3 months and 7 years. Among animals, dogs and rodents are the most common reservoir representatives of the disease, but felines can also acquire and transmit leishmaniasis and are exposed to risks.
The mosquito that transmits the disease is very small, which increases the need for prevention and protection. Simple attitudes, such as installing screens on windows and doors, avoiding the accumulation of garbage, using specific repellents and placing antiparasitic collars that prevent the transmission of leishmaniasis in felines, help to stop the disease.
Symptoms of leishmaniasis
The first signs of transmission of leishmaniasis appear on the skin, in the form of sores at the site of the bite covered by crusts or purulent secretions. These wounds can form lumps and cause permanent scarring on the body, as well as water. The mucosa of the mouth or nose can also be affected, generating inflammatory lesions and, if there is no adequate treatment, ulcer formation.
With time and inoculation of the protozoan, the parasites begin to attack the defense cells and break down the body's immunity. With that the symptoms of visceral leishmaniasis, more severe, such as anemia, weight loss, fever and weakness.
The parasites are concentrated in the spleen, liver and bone marrow, which causes the growth of the first two organs and lymph nodes and consequent swelling in the abdomen.
White blood cells and platelets undergo changes, also causing bleeding and bacterial infections. This is the most serious stage of the disease, which, if left untreated, can be fatal.
How is the diagnosis made?
Only a veterinarian is able to make an accurate diagnosis, through clinical and laboratory tests, which will test whether the patient has leishmaniasis or not. It is necessary to prove the presence of the parasite in the patient's body, which is why the most effective tests require tissue samples, lymph nodes or spinal cord.
The treatment of leishmaniasis in humans
Leishmaniasis can be a fatal disease if there is no adequate and immediate treatment. The organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) treated, in 2015, 5,400 people affected by the disease and more than 100,000 since 1989, but warns that if the disease is not treated, it can kill in up to 95% of cases.
After the confirmation of the disease, drug treatment is started, both for the cutaneous leishmaniasis as for visceral leishmaniasis. It is important that the patient affected by the disease is kept away from regions where he may have contact with the mosquito, such as near forests and rivers, dark and humid places or with insect proliferation.
Zoonosis can affect both humans and animals, and in general, it often infects dogs and rodents. Cats, however, are not immune. On the contrary: the lack of information and knowledge about the disease leaves cats even more exposed to it, since in general tutors are only concerned with dogs.
The free and independent personality of cats is also a risk factor for the transmission of leishmaniasis. These animals have nocturnal habits and usually spend the nights, and sometimes even a few days, outside the house, walking, hunting or “dating”. It is difficult to control where they go, let alone if they have passed through mosquito outbreaks or endemic areas.
In cats, the leishmaniasis parasite can be lodged for up to 7 years. Symptoms are similar to those seen in humans and dogs and begin with the formation of subcutaneous nodules, shedding, scaling and dermatitis, as well as eye damage.
In the most severe form of the disease, visceral leishmaniasis, symptoms include:
- Increased lymph nodes and abdomen, caused by swelling of the liver and spleen
The main problem is that many of these symptoms are common to other diseases and can hinder the diagnosis. Because they are general and not very specific, the ideal is take the feline to the vet as soon as you notice any symptoms.
The best way to prevent the cat from suffering from the consequences of leishmaniasis is to prevent the transmission of the disease. And the Seresto collar fulfills this mission, being the only one on the market with an indication for prevention of leishmaniasis in felines.
Seresto offers protection against leishmaniasis, fleas and ticks
Prevention is the best way to keep felines healthy and the Seresto collar offers protection for up to 8 months. It can be placed on cats after ten weeks of life without posing health risks and is effective not only in preventing the disease for the animal, but also for the whole family.
Seresto has a rubber matrix that stores the active ingredients that prevent the transmission of fleas, ticks and diseases such as leishmaniasis. The release of the assets happens gradually and continuously and begins right after contact with the cat's fur and fur, without the 15-day grace period indicated in some products on the market.
About 99.8% of fleas and more than 97% of ticks are eliminated in the first 24 and 48 hours of using Seresto, respectively. The Seresto collar continues to release the active ingredients over 8 months
Seresto was developed by Bayer to prevent cases of leishmaniasis, but if the cat or dog is already infected, Seresto prevents the animal from becoming a reservoir of the disease and transmitting it to family and other animals.
Seresto's performance proves it: it's not an expensive collar
The Seresto dog and cat collar has the best cost-benefit ratio on the market. In addition to prolonged protection, which lasts up to 8 months, unlike others available on the market that last less, Seresto offers triple prevention against fleas, ticks and diseases such as leishmaniasis.
Fleas are eliminated, ticks are controlled and the disease is prevented. As if all these advantages were not enough, Seresto is also specially designed for cats.
Many collars and repellents available on the market are highly toxic to felines, which are unable to metabolize some insecticides present in dog products. The assets present in Seresto are harmless to felines and released in low amounts, unable to cause intoxication.
- Dog Health, Cat Health
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