Leishmaniasis in cats, a dangerous and unknown disease

Although leishmaniasis is a disease more typical of dogs than cats, the sad reality is that it not only affects felines but it can also be very dangerous if they are not treated in time.

For this reason, we are going to explain what leishmaniasis in cats is and what the symptoms are so that it will be somewhat easier for you to recognize it.

What is it?

Leishmaniasis is a disease transmitted by sandflies (a type of mosquito). The carriers of leishmania, which is a protozoan, are the females of the insect since they are the ones that feed on the blood of the animal, be it a person, dog or cat.

Once the protozoa has been inoculated through the bite, it will spread through the skin (cutaneous Leishmaniosis) or through certain viscera (visceral Leishmaniosis). In the case of cats, you should know that they will only have it if their immune system is compromised , for example due to a serious disease such as the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).

What are the symptoms?

It will depend on the type of leishmaniasis you have:

  • Cutaneous: inflammation of the skin with alopecia, ulcerations, formation of nodules and pustules, thickening of the skin, depigmentation of the nose and fingers, scaling, dull and brittle hair, among others.
  • Visceral: weight loss, liver enlargement (and therefore abdomen enlargement), decreased activity, apathy, depression.

How is it diagnosed?

If we suspect that our cat may have it, we have to take him to the vet as soon as possible. Once there, they will do a leishmaniasis test (it consists of taking a blood sample to analyze if you have inoculated protozoa). In the case of confirmation, he will put a treatment.

How is it treated?

The treatment of leishmaniasis in cats is still somewhat in the experimental phase. As they are animals that are not usually outside, the risk of them getting sick is very low. Still, the vet may choose to administer allopurinol or meglumine antimoniate. The use of permethrin in these animals is strongly discouraged , as they are toxic to them.




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