Leishmaniasis is a disease which is estimated to affect 2.5 million dogs in Europe, mostly in countries around the Mediterranean Sea and Portugal (see map below). It is transmitted by biting flies and can cause a range of signs from skin disease and chronic weight loss to anaemia, kidney failure and death. It is not curable, although some cases can be controlled using long term medication. Recently, Virbac have developed a vaccine against leishmaniasis called CaniLeish which reduces the risk of contracting this potentially deadly infection. Additional measures, such as the use of a Scalibor collar (which will keep ticks off as well as biting flies), are also recommended.
For full protection, the initial vaccine course should start at least 10 weeks before travelling and comprises one injection every 3 weeks, with full immunity 4 weeks the after final injection. The vaccine is not recommended before dogs are six months old and has not been tested in pregnant or lactating patients. It should not be given to a patient who is in poor health and should not be given alongside other vaccines.
After the initial course, annual revaccination is advised.
Possible side effects are similar to those for human travel vaccines and include swelling, pain or redness at the injection site and fever, lethargy and an upset tummy. Allergic reactions are uncommon.
Cost (as of 20th May 2013):
Initial course (3 injections) £150
Annual booster £60