BACKGROUND: There are several screening tools for detecting Leishmania infantum infection in dogs and various preventive measures to protect against it. Some studies have investigated them, but not many have described their current use. The aim of this study was to investigate which preventive measures and serological screening tools for L. infantum infection were employed from 2012 to 2018 in dogs from different endemic European countries.
METHODS: A set of electronic datasheets was completed for each dog from several veterinary centres. Classification of preventive measures included: (1) repellents, (2) vaccines and (3) immunomodulators. Classification of serological tests included the: (1) direct agglutination test (DAT), (2) enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), (3) indirect immunofluorescence (IFI), (4) rapid tests and (5) other assays. Dogs were also classified depending on their risk of exposure and living area.
RESULTS: Information from 3762 dogs was gathered. Preventive measures were applied in 91.5% of dogs and the most frequently used were repellents (86.2%) followed by vaccines (39.8%) and Leisguard ® (15.3%). The different types of repellents (collar and spot-on) were used similarly. A combination of a vaccine and repellents was preferred in the high-risk group while the low-risk preferred a combination of Leisguard ® and a repellent (Chi-square test: X 2 = 88.41, df = 10, P < 0.001). Furthermore, all preventive measures were similarly used through the years except for repellents, which were predicted to have a small increase of use each year. Regarding serological screening tools, the most used were rapid and ELISA tests. Rapid tests, ELISA tests and DAT were used similarly through the years, but a significant change was found in the use of IFI and other assays whose use decreased a little each year.
CONCLUSIONS: Repellents were the preferred measure, while vaccines and Leisguard ® were second-line options. Some dogs were not treated by any measures, which highlights the need for dog owner education. Moreover, there seems to be a preference for rapid tests in the clinical setting to detect specific L. infantum antibodies while ELISA or IFI are less often employed. This underlines an increasing problem, as qualitative rapid tests have a variable diagnostic performance limiting the adequate diagnosis of seropositive dogs in endemic areas.
- Antibodies, Protozoan
- Dog Diseases/diagnosis
- Insect Repellents
- Leishmania infantum
- Leishmaniasis, Visceral/diagnosis