Leishmania Leishmaniasis


It was at the full moon night party (Feggarovradia) in Paleochora where we heard about leishmaniasis for the very first time. It was two days before we would buy Boomer, our little Cretan dog.

My husband, sons and I were sitting and drinking raki next to the Byzantine castle ruins, talking with the Greek Eleni and Damianos, when suddenly the subject came to dogs. Damianos told us he had saved a stray dog. Minos was living in their house for two years now, and they were crazy about him.

“Suddenly Minos started to have skin problems,” Damianos said. “Have you ever heard of leishmania?” We shaked our heads. “Well, it is a dogs- and cats disease that only occurs in Southern European countries, and Northern Africa. It is a blood parasite which is spread by stings of sand flies. It is depending on the resistance of the animal if the phenomena will act, whén that will be and in which extent. At a part of the animals, their own resistance will beat the parasite and at others an infection can lead to very serious problems. Complaints can occur from 1 month until 7 years after infection.”

“What complaints?” I asked.

“The symptoms are various. The most common forms cause skin problems, lameness and reduction of resistance. Sometimes the visible symptoms are quite subtle and in that case only blood tests can clarity. So, we went to a pet shop and bought a “quick test” which gave us a decisive answer within a quarter of an hour… And unfortunately, Minos was infected.”

“How is he now?” I carefully asked.

“We went to a vet,” Eleni replied, “and he gave us pills, but this therapy will be for life, because the parasite can withdraw in hard reachable spots in his body and could come out in case of an innocent disease, an operation, or just stress. So, Minos is having allopurinol now, 6 tablets a day, and he is doing fine…”

boomer our dog

We were flabbergasted by their story. What if Boomer, which we were at the point of buying, would have such a disease? After a small family discussion we decided not to do any examination on Boomer anyway. Not now. Our first mission was to save this little dog from his miserable life!

In the pet shop of Hersonissos, Petplanet, they gave us the same information on the sand fly disease as Eleni and Damianos did. They were selling quick tests for leishmania as well as for erlichia, a disease that is infected by ticks. We just bought Boomers first good dog food in this shop, a leash and a travelling box for the plane, and the likeable owner gave Boomer some dogs candy for his journey. Then we went to the vet for Boomers” necessary microchip.

“Unfortunately far not the most Greek dogs have this obliged microchip,” the doctor said, and he expressed his displeasure that there is no control on having such a chip. “It is so necessary for finding stolen and runaway dogs back!”

I am not afraid Boomer will ever run away. If you have read my second article about Boomer, you will remember he and I went to an obedience training. Meanwhile he learned to sit and lay down on command, and to walk on my left or right hand site. Only when he sees another dog he suddenly doesn”t understand Dutch… Boomer is doing great in Holland!

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