Two cases of feline leishmaniosis in Switzerland

Cats from Spain found with leishmaniosis in Switzerland

source: S. Rufenacht, H. Sager, N. Muller, V. Schaerer, A. Heier, M.M. Welle and P.J. Roosje Veterinary Record vol 156 no 17, April 23 2005 starts p 542, 4 pages long

Feline leishmaniosis occurs in places where there is endemic canine leishmaniosis, such as southern Europe and Latin America. The species of leishmaniosis vary, and L.infantum is found in southern Europe. Affected cats may suffer from skin lesions and more serious problems including renal failure. Two cases of feline leishmaniosis treated in Switzerland involved cats that were probably infected in Spain.

The first cat was a six-year-old male, ex-stray, imported from Mallorca, with skin lesions. The cat was generally healthy except for its skin problems. PCR on skin samples, and histopathology revealed leishmaniosis infection. After surgery and allopurinol treatment, the cat recovered, and ten months later had no lesions or signs of leishmaniosis. The second cat was female, nine years old, and had lived in Spain. The cat had crusts on its ears, and suffered from lethargy and a poor appetite. Parasitological and histopathological results indicated pemphigus foliaceus combined with a leishmaniosis species infection. The skin lesions were successfully treated with a ten week course of allopurinol. The cat also received 1mg/kg prednisolone once weekly for six months, and two years following diagnosis was doing well.

Pemphigus foliaceus is often treated with immunosuppressive drugs like corticosteroids, but this can increase the parasitic burden in animals with leishmaniosis. Cellular immunity helps control leishmaniosis, and glucocorticoids can affect host-parasite balances, so are not appropriate as sole therapy for animals with leishmaniosis. Cats are often affected by leishmaniosis in areas where it is endemic, and they may show no symptoms. It may thus be useful to check for leishmaniosis infection in cats where the disease is endemic, if they need immunosuppressive treatment or have clinical signs.