Leishmania major infection in a dog with cutaneous manifestations

Gad Baneth, Yaarit Nachum-Biala, Maytal Shabat Simon, Ori Brenner, Sarit Gaier, Alicia Rojas, Daniel Yasur-Landau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Leishmania major is a main cause of cutaneous leishmaniasis in humans in an area that stretches from India through Central Asia, the Middle East, to North and West Africa. In Israel, it is a common infection of humans with rodents as the reservoir hosts and Phlebotomus papatasi as its sand fly vector. Findings: A 6 months old spayed female mixed breed dog was referred to the Hebrew University Veterinary Teaching Hospital with a large ulcerative dermal lesion on the muzzle, and lesions in the foot pads and left hind leg. Histopathology of a skin biopsy found chronic lymphohistiocytic dermatitis with the presence of Leishmania spp. amastigotes in the muzzle. Physical examination indicated that the dog was overall in a good clinical condition and the main findings were the skin lesions and enlarged prescapular lymph nodes. Complete blood count and serum biochemistry profile were within reference ranges. Serology by ELISA was positive for Leishmania spp. and PCR of the prescapular lymph node was positive by an ITS1 region PCR-high resolution melt analysis. However, the melt curve and subsequent DNA sequencing indicated that infection was caused by L. major and not L. infantum, which is the main causative agent of canine leishmaniosis in the Mediterranean region. DNA was extracted from the paraffin embedded muzzle biopsy and PCR with sequencing also indicated L. major. The dog's young age and the absence of hyperglobulinemia and anemia were not typical of L. infantum infection. The dog was treated with allopurinol and the skin lesions improved and later disappeared when the dog was re-evaluated. Conclusions: This is the first molecularly-confirmed case of L. major infection in a dog. Two previous reports of L. major in dogs originated from Saudi-Arabia and Egypt in 1985 and 1987 were confirmed by enzymatic biochemical techniques. Serology for L. infantum was positive probably due to the well documented serological cross-reactivity between Leishmania spp. Although dogs and wild carnivores are not considered main reservoirs for L. major, the possibility of clinical canine disease and their potential as secondary hosts should be investigated in areas endemic for human L. major infection.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number246
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
StatePublished - 10 May 2016


  • Allopurinol
  • Canine
  • Cutaneous leishmaniasis
  • Israel
  • Leishmania major
  • Leishmania major treatment
  • Molecularly-confirmed

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Parasitology


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