I wish I could give you the definative answer as to how to get rid of them. But I can’t. Instead I can only apply as many repellants as possible and hope that they work. So far I have tried all of the nasty smelly repellants that you can buy in the chemists (not a good fragrance for romance, believe me, and they taste even worse); we’ve got plug ins all over the house as well – not much use either in such a big house, and I am chugging down the garlic like it’s going out of business. I’ve found a natural repellant which smells like a spicy perfume, but uses loads of different essential oils, this at least seems to be waylaying the bugs until i can get the long trousers on.
So I instead I am concentrating on not itching – cold Aloe Vera and a strong will.
But actually I shouldn’t be worrying or indeed complaining about the mossies, as at least they can’t leave me with a lifelong disease. Which is what a mosquito bite can do to a dog, my dogs. I spoke to Riccardo, a local vet (http://www.clinicaveterinariapaguera.es/) who told me about Leishmania – it’s a disease which dogs can contract after being bitten by an infected mosquito. The best treatment is to prevent them being attractive to mossies – by making sure they wear repellant collars, and bunging on those repellant drops you can get from the vets. It’s quite a serious disease, and is lifelong once the animal has it, so it’s well worth making sure that you’re giving your faithful friends a fighting chance. It’s a shock to realise that they are at risk here, and there are a couple of other nasty things as well which I’ll write about when the time is right.
WHAT IS LEISHMANIASIS?
It is a disease that affects mainly dogs (and occasionally cats). It is transmitted by a blood sucking insect, mistakenly called a ‘sand fly’, but scientifically known as Phlebotomous perniciousus, and in Spain known as “ la enfermedad del mosquito.´´
Not all the Phlebotomes transmit leishmaniasis. It is also a misconception that our pets are at higher risk of encountering the disease on beaches! Areas with high humidity and thick vegetation are the ideal breeding spots for the phlebotomes, i.e. swampy areas and marsh lands. Unfortunately Mallorca is one of the areas in Spain with the highest prevalence of Leishmaniasis.
HOW DOES MY PET GET INFECTED?
For a dog to contract the disease it is necessary for the insect to bite them, and through the saliva at the bite site infect the dog with one of the larval stages of the leishmaniasis. Once in the blood stream the larvae finally develop a parasite that lives in the blood stream and replicates in organs such as the liver, bone marrow and lymph nodes. Unfortunately during its life cycle the parasite affects both liver and kidney function and in the long term it will inevitably cause death if left untreated. Clinical signs to look out for are: Skin ulcers, hair loss around eyes and dandruff, abnormal growth of nails, weight loss and lethargy.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
Treatment is available to improve the quality of life of our beloved pets, but unfortunately it is not a cure, once infected it is for life. The treatment helps control the number of parasites in the blood stream, keeping them at a minimum hence not affecting the organs in such a way to be life threatening. The sooner the disease is diagnosed and treated the higher the rate of survival and better recovery of our pets. At Clinica Veterinaria Paguera we recomend an annual blood test to make sure that our patients have not been exposed to the disease, and if in the unfortunate case that they test positive we recomend treatment to control the possible development of the disease.
WHY IS IT ON THE INCREASE?
In past years, when the seasons were well established it was largely acknowledged that leishmania season started in early spring when temperatures rose, and humidity increased thus creating the favourable conditions for the phlebotomes to develop and live and then peak at the end of summer. But Planet Earth has been suffering global climatic changes, and we now cannot see clear divisions of seasons. We seem to now undergo a longer spring, short summer, longer autumn and milder winters, therefore prolonging the life cycle of phlebotomes hence making leishmania season longer! Until recently we would have recomended leishmania protection from early spring i.e. April/May until late October, but we now strongly recomend that you protect your pets for a longer period depending on the temperature and humidity.
Prevention although never guaranteed at 100% is always better than having to cure.
Your local veterinarian will be able to offer advice and guidance for prevention, diagnosis and if necessary treatment.
For further information, contact your local vet or
Clinica Veterinaria Paguera – Consultorio Veterinario Andratx
Riccardo Giglioli, Veterinary Surgeon L.V. MRCVS
Tel.: 971 689 525
SOS: 607 373 135