Leishmaniosis is an infectious desease which is contracted through sand fly bites. The condition may be transmitted from animals to humans (through cuts and open wounds, hence occuring only rarely). Two types of the condition are described, one affecting the inner organs and another manifesting mostly through skin alterations.
The incubation period of this disease is between one and eighteen months. The symptoms may vary depending on the form of leishmaniasis. The skin- and the intestinal forms often occur simultaneously which is why the symptoms will be subsumed in the following paragraph. Affected dogs usually lose weight. Diarrhea, vomiting, loss of hair, skin changes in form of cracks and ulcers are common symptoms. Especially typical are greasy, chalky scales. The inflammations and eczemas predominantly occur on the nose bridge, ears and around the eyes which causes the typical ring around the dog's eyes that look like glasses. As the emaciation progresses lameness and bloody nose discharge may be observed.
Biting midges are spread in Europe exclusively south of the 45th latitude, so that nearly all cases of illness result from stays abroad of the dogs in holiday destinations such as Spain, Italy, Portugal, South France and Corsica or Turkey. Individual cases are also known from South Switzerland.
The causative organism can be verified by means of a tissue sample, the safest way, however, is a blood analysis. Particularly with the visceral type the prospect of healing is very unfavorable. For the treatment, protein synthesis inhibitors are used, the procedure however is interminable and expensive.
The disease is, particularly when visceral organs are affected, to be considered as emergency since danger to life may emanate from it. In case you purchased a dog in one of the countries described or via a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, you should consult a veterinarian in case of appearance of the symptoms. If it cannot be avoided or if you would like to take your dog into the regions affected, you should minimize the risk by proceeding preventively. A vaccination is not possible, but you may use preparations with protective effect against ticks and midges. Additionally, drugs with killing effect should be applied. Spot-on products or shampoos are common variants. Your veterinarian will certainly advice you on your options.