This horrible parasitic disease is prevalent in the south of Italy and the islands and the Tyrrhenian coast but it is also spreading northwards and cases have been found all over the peninsula.
It affects the white blood cells and is transmitted by a tiny sandfly with white wings. The disease is spread when the sandfly bites an infected dog and then a healthy one. The sandfly normally bites at night often between 2 and 4 am and mosquito nets don't work as the fly is so small.
The main symptoms of leishmaniosis (leishmania in Italian) are weight loss, swollen lymph glands, long nails, loss of hair around the eyes, anaemia, chronic diarrohea and lameness. It can lead to liver and kidney failure and you need to get your dog to a vet who will probably order a blood test. Early diagnosis and treatment has a good outcome but serious leishmaniosis can be fatal.
The Good News
I've been contacted by an Italian site about leishmaniosis who tell me there is now a vaccine called Canileish and details can be found here. It is not 100% effective but at least it is a step in the right direction. It has been used in France and Spain for the last year and now it has come to Italy.
Have any of you tried this yet?