BY CARRIE WIRTH
PHOTOS BY DAVID TRAXLER, KARENAN SMART & EQ MEDIA
Foxhounds are 20 times more likely to contract Leishmaniasis than other sporting dogs due to the prevalence of ticks in their working environment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some dogs can have the Leishmania parasite for extended periods and may not exhibit any signs or symptoms of disease (asymptomatic). In asymptomatic dogs, the parasite can lie dormant for a while, sometimes years. A trigger like stress or illness causes the parasite to multiply and attack the body. Both asymptomatic and symptomatic dogs are capable of infecting sand flies and spreading the disease. Symptoms may include sores on the skin, peeling, ulcers, loss of weight, bald patches, conjunctivitis, blindness, nasal discharge, muscular atrophy, inflammation, swelling and organ failure, including mild heart attacks.
In 1980, the first case of Leishmaniasis was reported in an Oklahoma foxhound kennel. Since then, 33 states and two Canadian provinces have reported cases.
MFHA recognized the risk to foxhounds. The MFHA Foundation has collaborated with the University of Iowa and the Petersen Lab in a two-part decade-long study to study the effects of leishmaniasis and its transmission in foxhounds. At the May board meeting, Christine Petersen, DVM, Ph.D., presented her results.
The study’s objective was to test the effects of tick prevention on the progression of Leishmaniasis.
Tick prevention lowered the incidence of tick-borne disease and decreased the severity of Leishmaniasis. Formal results will be published in the fall of 2021.