Leishmaniasis in Cats – Symptoms and Treatment
The leishmaniasis is a disease caused by the protozoan (unicellular eukaryotic organism) Leishmania infantum . Technically it is a zoonosis because it affects the human being, although it is mainly the dogs that suffer most from the disease, acting as carriers, being fatal if not started a veterinary treatment.
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Leishmania is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito, belonging to the genus Phlebotomus . In this way, the mosquito bites a sick dog and / or carrier and, once the protozoan matures in the insect, it bites another dog, introducing him to the pathogen. That is, without mosquito the disease can not be transmitted. Although the dog is the main victim of this condition, the truth is that it can also affect other animals like cats. Therefore, in YourCatCareguide we will explain to you what are the symptoms of leishmaniasis in cats and what their treatment consists of .
Very common in dogs, leishmaniasis was considered a very strange condition in the cat because of its natural resistance and the effective response of the immune system to the disease. But nowadays we can see that its incidence is increasing in a worrying way. There seems to be a greater likelihood of contracting the disease in cats suffering from other diseases , which minimize the effectiveness of the immune system, such as feline immunodeficiency or toxoplasmosis .
Symptoms of Feline Leishmaniasis
Leishmaniasis in the cat is a disease with a long incubation period (it takes a long time to manifest symptoms) and once they develop, they are rather nonspecific. In the cat, the disease can appear in three different ways :
- Cutaneous form . Subcutaneous painless nodules, mainly located in the head and neck, may be observed. In addition, these symptoms of feline leishmaniasis are usually accompanied by an increase in the size of nearby lymph nodes. These ganglia can also be opened later and infected. Other skin symptoms may be observed.
- Ocular form . The eyes are affected, seeing conjunctivitis , blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids), uveitis (inflammation of the uvea), hair loss around the eyes, etc.
- Generalized systemic form . This is the least frequent form of leishmania in cats. If it happens, it can be observed as the main symptom an enlargement of the lymph nodes. In addition, very specific symptoms such as anorexia, progressive weight loss, apathy, etc. may occur.
Diagnosis of feline leishmaniasis
The disease is diagnosed through specific tests, such as a blood test , with an examination that looks for and quantifies the antibodies generated by the animal in the presence of the protozoan. It is not possible to make a symptomatic diagnosis, since the symptoms are not very specific.
Treatment of feline leishmaniasis
In leishmaniasis, both in humans and in dogs and cats, there are two strategies when it comes to making a treatment. On the one hand, we have the preventive treatment and, on the other hand, the curative treatment once the disease is diagnosed.
- The preventive treatment against feline leishmaniasis is to avoid contact with the mosquito. For this, physical barriers (for example, putting mosquito nets on windows) are used or different insecticides, such as repellents, are used. In cat, the use of repellents is very limited, since most of them are toxic to cats, so it is necessary to consult a veterinarian before opting for this preventive measure.
- In the case of treatment to cure leishmania in cats , there are no protocols of treatments as efficient as in dogs, since up to now the positive diagnosis of the disease in cats had been scarce. Medications such as Allopurinol and N-methyl-meglumine are used. It is important that the treatment is indicated by a veterinarian and that it always follows its recommendations.
This article is purely informative, in YourCatCareguide.com.br we do not have the capacity to prescribe veterinary treatments nor to make any type of diagnosis. We suggest you bring your pet to the veterinarian in case of any type of condition or malaise.
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