Introduction to the Series
Important Note: I’ve done my best to keep this post informative and accurate. Be aware that I am neither a doctor, a veterinarian, nor a biologist, and that my knowledge of biology and medicine is limited to what I learnt in high school and what I may have picked up along the way since then. Before trying anything on your dog or if in doubt, check with your vet. If you spot any mistakes, please let me know by leaving a comment or contacting me through any social networks.
If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you may know that one of my dogs, Syd, was diagnosed with Leishmaniasis (or Leishmaniosis) at four years of age. Although she survived the disease, it certainly made the remainder of her life much more complicated.
Since there have been several advances on the topic since then, I decided to do some research and write comprehensively about it. I considered writing just one post, but it would be very long, and I think it’s better to digest the information in stages. These are the points that I will be covering (the list will be expanded as posts are published):
- What is Leishmaniasis or Leishmaniosis?
- Transmission of Leishmaniasis
- Symptoms in Dogs
- How Can Leishmaniasis Be Prevented?
Feel free to jump to the post or section that interests you the most.
Since the leishmania parasites are transmitted through a sandfly bite, the best methods are those which keep sandflies away or kill them before they can bite.
There are three main options, which can be combined:
- Spot-on solutions
Apart from this, vets also suggest keeping your dog indoors when the sandflies are most active in endemic areas (Lladró et al. 2017). This is usually between May and October in the Mediterranean area, and especially at night.
Collars seem to be one of the most effective measures against transmission of the parasites. In a study carried over twenty years on military working dogs in the south of France, there were initially a significant number of dogs suffering the disease. However, the number of infected dogs decreased substantially after the dogs wore the deltamethrine collar for six months, from spring to autumn (Davoust et al. 2013). Note that this does not mean that ill dogs were cured, but rather that new dogs wearing collars were less likely to be infected. Other studies show similar results, encouraging the use of the collar to prevent the infection (Brianti et al. 2016).
The Scalibor collar contains deltamethrine and lasts from 4 to 6 months (Ribeiro et al. 2018). It also prevents ticks and fleas.
Seresto contains a combination of imidacloprid and umethrin. It lasts for 8 months (Ribeiro et al. 2018). As I mentioned earlier, it is officially used to prevent ticks and fleas. Up until recently, it was not marketed as an effective protection against leishmaniasis; however, in July 2018 Bayer obtained permission in several countries to recommend it for the prevention of the disease (Bayer 2018).
Which one to get?
To begin with, it seems like both collars are a great protection measures against sandfly bites. Their efficacy “numbers”, though depend on the study.
For example, the research carried out by Brianti et al. (2016) shows that Seresto had an efficacy of 88.3%, whereas Scalibor’s was 61.8%. It is important to note, though, that this study was funded and designed by Bayer Animal Healthcare, manufacturers of Seresto.
On the other hand, another field study carried out in 2001 shows that Scalibor’s protection rate in the second year of the study was as high as 86%. Note that, in the first year, the protection rate was merely a 50%, although the authors concluded that it was not a statistically significant result (Maroli et al. 2001).
In contrast to collars, spot-on solutions last for a shorter period of time, from two to five weeks. There are more options to choose from in this case, and in general they are effective also against ticks and fleas.
Below you’ll find a list of most, if not all, available spot-on products (Ribeiro et al. 2018). Note that all of them contain permethrin. For some of the products I do not have efficacy numbers.
It contains a combination of imidacloprid (also in the Seresto collar) and permethrin. Protection lasts for three weeks. Effectiveness is listed as 88.9–90.4% for monthly treatment (percentages improve on an application every two weeks), according to Otranto et al. (2007). Note that Bayer funded the study.
It only contains permethrin. Its protection lasts from 2 to 3 weeks. According to a study cited by Ribeiro et al. (2018), the risk reduction of a sand fly bite was 84%. In this case, I wasn’t able to check who funded the original study.
Frontect or Frontline Tri-Act
Frontect / Frontline contains a combination of pronil and permethrin. Protection lasts for 3 weeks and efficacy is stated as 100% in a study by Papadopoulos (2017). Like in other cases, the study was funded by the manufacturer of the product, Merial.
Effitix or Fiprotix or Fipratix
Combines pronil and permethrin. It lasts for four weeks.
Combines pronil and permethrin. It lasts for four weeks.
Caniguard Line On
It only contains permethrin. It lasts for five weeks.
It contains a combination of dinotefuran, permethrin and pyriproxyfen. It lasts for four weeks.
Which one to get?
According to the studies, spot-on solutions seem to be an effective protection against sandfly bites. All of the products contain permethrin in larger quantities than the other components, and last for a few weeks.
I believe that in this case choosing one or another product depends on brand availability and whichever you prefer. Although Frontect/Frontline had 100% efficacy, remember that the study was funded by Merial, the lab that sells it, and that each study was carried out under different conditions, so it is really difficult to compare their results.
The first thing to point out when it comes to vaccines is that they are not effective in preventing leishmaniasis (Brianti et al. 2016; Oliva et al. 2014). However, the vaccine is useful to keep the disease in check once the dog becomes infected (Oliva et al. 2014).
As far as I know, there are (were) four different vaccines: Canileish (Virbac), LetiFend (LetiPharma and MSD Animal Health), Leishmune (Zoetis) and Leish-Tech (Hertape Calier). Canilesh and LetiFend are mainly commercialized in the European Union, whereas Leishmune and Leish-Tech are mainly used in Brazil.
In a survey carried out by Lladró et al. (2017), veterinarians detected a significant number of minor side-effects for Canileish, such as local swelling and pain. Severe reactions, such as death or anaphylaptic shock, were infrequent. Note that no formal tests were carried out to determine if the vaccine was indeed their cause; these were based on the veterinarian’s observations.
A study carried out over two years showed that the vaccine helps keep the disease at bay, although note that some of the authors of the study work for Laboratorios Leti (Fernández Cotrina et al. 2018), manufacturers / distributors of the vaccine.
Leishmune and Leish-Tech
No significant difference between Leish-Tech and Leishmune (Fernandes et al. 2014). Be aware, though, that Leishmune was suspended in 2014 (Ribeiro et al. 2018).
Which One to Get?
I cannot really offer any advice, as the availability of the vaccines depends on where you live.
Bayer. 2018. “Seresto Now Offers Protection with New Licensing in Many European Countries to Reduce the Risk of Canine Leishmaniosis.” July 2, 2018. https://media.bayer.com/baynews/baynews.nsf/id/Seresto-offers-protection-licensing-european-countries-reduce-canine-leishmaniosis.
Brianti, Emanuele, Ettore Napoli, Gabriella Gaglio, Luigi Falsone, Salvatore Giannetto, Fabrizio Solari Basano, Roberto Nazzari, et al. 2016. “Field Evaluation of Two Different Treatment Approaches and Their Ability to Control Fleas and Prevent Canine Leishmaniosis in a Highly Endemic Area.” Edited by Gad Baneth. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases 10 (9): e0004987. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0004987.
Davoust, Bernard, Cédric Roqueplo, Daniel Parzy, Stéphanie Watier-Grillot, and Jean-Lou Marié. 2013. “A Twenty-Year Follow-up of Canine Leishmaniosis in Three Military Kennels in Southeastern France.” Parasites & Vectors 6 (1): 323. https://doi.org/10.1186/1756-3305-6-323.
Fernandes, Consuelo Barreto, Jairo Torres Magalhães Junior, Clauceane de Jesus, Bárbara Maria Paraná da Silva Souza, Daniela Farias Larangeira, Deborah Bittencourt Mothé Fraga, Patricia Sampaio Tavares Veras, and Stella Maria Barrouin-Melo. 2014. “Comparison of Two Commercial Vaccines against Visceral Leishmaniasis in Dogs from Endemic Areas: IgG, and Subclasses, Parasitism, and Parasite Transmission by Xenodiagnosis.” Vaccine 32 (11): 1287–95. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2013.12.046.
Fernández Cotrina, Javier, Virginia Iniesta, Isabel Monroy, Victoria Baz, Christophe Hugnet, Francisco Marañon, Mercedes Fabra, Luis Carlos Gómez-Nieto, and Carlos Alonso. 2018. “A Large-Scale Field Randomized Trial Demonstrates Safety and Efficacy of the Vaccine LetiFend against Canine Leishmaniosis.” Vaccine 36: 1972–1982.
Lladró, S., A. Picado, C. Ballart, M. Portús, and M. Gállego. 2017. “Management, Prevention and Treatment of Canine Leishmaniosis in North-Eastern Spain: An Online Questionnaire-Based Survey in the Province of Girona with Special Emphasis on New Preventive Methods (CaniLeish Vaccine and Domperidone).” Veterinary Record 180 (2): 47–47. https://doi.org/10.1136/vr.103653.
Maroli, M., V. Mizzoni, C. Siragusa, A. D’Orazi, and L. Gradoni. 2001. “Evidence for an Impact on the Incidence of Canine Leishmaniasis by the Mass Use of Deltamethrin-Impregnated Dog Collars in Southern Italy.” Medical and Veterinary Entomology 15 (4): 358–63. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.0269-283x.2001.00321.x.
Oliva, Gaetano, Javier Nieto, Valentina Foglia Manzillo, Silvia Cappiello, Eleonora Fiorentino, Trentina Di Muccio, Aldo Scalone, et al. 2014. “A Randomised, Double-Blind, Controlled Efficacy Trial of the LiESP/QA-21 Vaccine in Naïve Dogs Exposed to Two Leishmania Infantum Transmission Seasons.” Edited by Shaden Kamhawi. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 8 (10): e3213. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0003213.
Otranto, Domenico, Paola Paradies, Riccardo Paolo Lia, Maria Stefania Latrofa, Gabriella Testini, Cinzia Cantacessi, Norbert Mencke, Gianluca Galli, Gioia Capelli, and Dorothee Stanneck. 2007. “Efficacy of a Combination of 10% Imidacloprid/50% Permethrin for the Prevention of Leishmaniasis in Kennelled Dogs in an Endemic Area.” Veterinary Parasitology 144 (3–4): 270–78. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vetpar.2006.09.012.
Papadopoulos, Elias, Athanasios Angelou, Anastasia Diakou, Lenaïg Halos, and Frederic Beugnet. 2017. “Five-Month Serological Monitoring to Assess the Effectiveness of Permethrin/Fipronil (Frontline Tri-Act®) Spot-on in Reducing the Transmission of Leishmania Infantum in Dogs.” Veterinary Parasitology: Regional Studies and Reports 7 (January): 48–53. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vprsr.2016.12.005.
Ribeiro, Raul Rio, Marilene Suzan Marques Michalick, Manoel Eduardo da Silva, Cristiano Cheim Peixoto dos Santos, Frédéric Jean Georges Frézard, and Sydnei Magno da Silva. 2018. “Canine Leishmaniasis: An Overview of the Current Status and Strategies for Control.” BioMed Research International 2018: 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/3296893.