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Mediterranean Diseases

Many people in northern Europe are always unsure about giving a dog from Spain, Italy, Turkey etc. a new home because the specter of 'Mediterranean diseases' is rampant again and again.

Mediterranean diseases mainly include leishmaniasis and filaria. Babesiosis and Ehrlichiosis have long ceased to be a pure Mediterranean disease, because they have long since entered the Alps and are located in Switzerland, Austria and Germany.
They are therefore listed under "other diseases" on our HP.
In Romania, on the other hand, leishmniasis has not yet moved in because it is definitely too cold there in winter. at least until now. The filaria (heartworms) play a major role here.
Responsible animal welfare organizations therefore offer a disease check that particularly affects the particular country.
At this point we would also like to point out that every dog ​​(including dogs from Germany) should be subjected to a check, because who says that the Germans' willingness to travel does not contact the dogs at some point. B. brought with the sand mosquito in Italy, southern France, Spain, Greece etc.?
So every dog, where we do not know exactly where it comes from and what it has experienced before, is suspect, e.g. B. to be ill with leishmaniasis or filariasis.
But now back to the actual topic:
It should be noted that dogs under the age of 10 months cannot be tested safely because there may be a false positive or negative indication of antibodies - the search tests do not detect the pathogen itself, but only the antibodies made by the body.
We therefore always recommend a test in dogs aged about one year.
A repeat test is also recommended for tested animals from Spain or Romania after about six months in the country of arrival.

Particular attention is paid to leishmaniasis, which often has to be treated for a lifetime, since it can lead to severe organ damage in the dog if not treated. With the right medication (read further on this page) the dog can reach a normal carefree age.
A BIG BLOOD TEST is important for diagnosis. The "quick tests" that are repeatedly offered are not meaningful enough.
You are welcome to read our information below about the diseases listed individually.
If you still have any questions, please feel free to contact Ute Hübner (see below).

The disease, which is unfortunately prematurely diagnosed by some veterinarians when a dog comes from the south, is called leishmaniasis. Unfortunately, this ignores other infectious diseases and often causes serious illnesses because the wrong illness is treated. Leishmaniasis should not be underestimated, but not every Spanish dog with diarrhea or skin changes 'automatically' suffers from it. In Central Europe, leishmaniasis is seen as a classic tropical medical infectious disease. It is currently increasing rapidly and, due to the growing tourism in the Mediterranean regions, the number of leishmaniasis in humans and animals is also increasing in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
The Leishmania can ONLY BE TRANSMITTED BY SANDMÜECKEN of the genus Phlebotomus - similar to malaria, where the transmission takes place only by a female mosquito of the genus Anopheles. Every now and then it is claimed that Leishmania is transmitted by ticks, fleas, other mosquito species or mites, by biting between dogs or by saliva, these statements are simply wrong and not documented!
These sandflies were discovered in Germany in 1999.
Due to the nocturnal bite of the sand mosquito, the leishmanias are first spread under the skin in dogs and then via the blood to other organs (spleen, liver, bone marrow). Signs of illness often only appear WEEKS, MONTHS OR YEARS AFTER THE INFECTION. The symptoms range from reddening of the skin to purulent ulcers that heal only with difficulty or not, nosebleeds, uncontrollable diarrhea, general sluggishness etc. complete the picture. However, there are no typical symptoms that only indicate leishmaniasis.
In Europe you can only find the visceral form of leishmaniasis, the external changes are always secondary, the worse the organ damage, z. B. kidney, liver. A blood test in connection with a 'large blood count' provides information about the severity of the disease.

Laboratory diagnostics - antibody titer determination (example from a laboratory, the values ​​can vary greatly depending on the diagnostic laboratory)
below 1/40 negative
over 1/80 positive.
In between there is a gray area, ie titers of 1/60 and 1/80 show that the animal must have come into contact with the pathogen. In this case, however, no symptoms of the disease can be seen. Treatment with allopurinol can, however, be carried out for safety reasons.
In the meantime, however, there are already experienced medical professionals who say that it is better to carry out treatment with allopurinol only from an antibody titer of 1: 160.
However, the vet and / or the laboratory must always be spoken about because of the interpretation of the titer determination, because there are also variations in the results.
As soon as the titer is higher than 1/40, a six-monthly check should be carried out again and again.
Recently, it has been increasingly noticed in Germany that false positive results can also occur if there is babesiosis or Ehrlichiosis, i.e. the animals are often not affected by leishmaniasis, but apparently there are cross-reactions in the diagnosis during testing.

Leishmaniasis is generally not dangerous for humans - at most, people with an autoimmune disease or a reduction in their own immune defenses, e.g. B. at high risk after a kidney transplant.
Such people should therefore not drive to areas where leishmaniasis can be triggered by the sand mosquito.

DIROFILARIOSE (heartworm disease)
Heartworms are transmitted by large mosquitoes, rarely by ticks or fleas. Infection in the womb is also possible. The larvae of the heartworms migrate from the skin into the muscles, penetrate the bloodstream and thus reach the heart. The worms then live in the blood vessels and can block them.
The adult worms grow up to 30 cm long and often settle in the right ventricle and in the artery leading from there to the lungs. Cardiac function is impaired. Shortness of breath, weight loss and chronic cough are typical symptoms.
Proof in the laboratory is required.
Spot-on preparations (Stronghold) have proven to be an effective treatment because it also kills the transmitted filaria in the blood.
Large worms may need to be removed surgically. The scalibor collar does not offer sufficient protection against dirofilariosis, since it does not ward off the large mosquitoes. Stronghold is a reliable alternative.
There is also the option to use ivermectin once a month (3 mg / 5 kg body weight) for one year after a two-week course of antibiotics. This is a gentler method, but it takes much longer.

Diseases that also occur in Germany:

Giardia are unicellular organisms that get into the host body mainly through the intake of contaminated drinking water. Persistent, slimy yellowish (sometimes bloody) diarrhea is a typical symptom.
Severe itching can also occur, which often leads to misdiagnosis.
Giardia are not only found in southern Europe, but also occur in kennels. B. often from animal shelters in Germany - mostly in summer or autumn.
Panacur (fendabendazole) is the drug of choice. Contrary to the recommendation in the package insert, in the case of severe infestation, treatment should take place over 5 days, a 3-day break and then another 3 days. Animals living in the same household should also be treated preventively with Panacur (according to the package insert).
With mild infestation, however, this can be administered much less. Please ask a veterinarian who has experience with giardia.
Of course, the weight of the dogs must always be taken into account. It is enough for puppies with 50 mg / day - but larger dogs need a lot more.
Babesiosis is transmitted by a certain type of tick (Rhipicephalus and Dermacentor), which is now native to large parts of Europe (including southern Germany!). Therefore, it is no longer a Mediterranean disease.
The pathogens, called Babesia (unicellular organisms), attack the red blood cells and destroy them.
The symptoms vary depending on the course and severity of the disease and are therefore often difficult for veterinarians to diagnose.
Some typical symptoms are:
Severely impaired general feeling, apathy, weariness, fever, pale mucous membranes, paralysis, movement disorders, emaciation, spleen and / or liver values ​​not in the normal range, sometimes skin changes ...
If dogs show such abnormalities, please have them tested for babesiosis. Babesiosis recognized too late can be fatal. Recognized early, it is completely curable !!!!
Antibodies can be detected from the 10th day after infection.
Titers <1:20 are negative.
Titers> = 1:40 speak for a previous infection.
Acute stage: Hemolytic anemia and its consequences with increased bilirubin and LDH, reticulocytosis and hemoglobinuria. The Coombstest is often positive.
Chronic stage: hemolysis takes a back seat. The anemia persists, but increasingly loses its regenerative character. Leukopenia often occurs at the same time. Liver values ​​are usually increased.

WARNING: a dog that has tested positive for Babesia must be treated IMMEDIATELY. Cross-reactions often occur as a result of the Babesia attack and other titers are also raised. This does not necessarily mean that the dog has several illnesses at once.
Babesia is not transferable from dog to dog or dog to person. Only this particular type of tick from the south is transmitted. Scalibor collars, like other tick species and sand mosquitoes (transmitters of leishmaniasis), are also a proven preventive measure here.
The Ehrlichiosis is also transmitted by ticks. Ehrlichiosis and babesiosis often go hand in hand because the ticks in question transmit both pathogens. Ehrlichiosis is widespread in almost all of Europe (the disease also takes its course in Germany due to climate change ...). The incubation period is 8-20 days. Ehrlichia affects white blood cells and damages the immune system. The symptoms range from 'no symptoms' to itching, nausea, joint problems, fever, and a decrease in platelets (tendency to bleed!).
Ehrlichiosis - if recognized in good time - can be cured very well by antibiotic therapy (doxycycline HYCLAT) lasting several weeks.
Scalibor collars offer protection here too.

Other bowel diseases
a.) In addition to worms and giardia, other pathogens also play a major role in an intestinal disease. In addition to the viruses, there are also numerous bacteria, e.g. B. Campylobacter, Clostridium difficile and others.
Worming agents like Drontal or Panacur fail here because they do not fight against the bacteria.
It only helps a broad spectrum antibiotic.
b.) Coccidiosis
Another unicellular organism (a class of protozoa) simulates the coccidia that should be treated with sulfonamides.
The best thing is always to have a faecal examination at the vet for intestinal diseases so that it can be found out in detail whether the causative agents of the diarrhea are bacteria, giardia or worms.
It is always important to change the feed, e.g. B. Chicken with rice or the good old oatmeal soup, which also provides relief for our four-legged friends.
Adequate water and mineral intake (especially in puppies and young animals) is now very important, otherwise it can easily lead to dangerous "dehydration".

Ariane Thoma (1. Vorsitzende) (Languages: German, English)
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