Visceral leishmaniasis is the most severe form of leishmaniasis and is caused by a protozoan parasite normally found in a vector such as the sand fly. This disease is very common in cats and dogs but can also be found in humans. It is normally recommended that pets are screened on a yearly basis by a specialized Veterinarian in order to be able to detect early systems of this disease. Once leishmaniasis become severe and is transferred to the circulatory system, it can become fatal in a matter of days. Signs and symptoms include fever, weight loss, mucosal ulcers, fatigue, anemia and swelling of the liver and spleen.

All dogs and cats are normally screened for this disease, which is relatively common throughout the Maltese islands. Testing can be in a form of ELISA testing or with PCR technology. ELISA testing is the cheapest method, which is able to detect antibodies or antigens in a sample by means of a fluorescent chemical. The body produces these antigens and antibodies as a means for protection from an infection. This however may not be conclusive and may give a large amount of false positive or negative results and thus may require further testing using PCR technology.

MLSBioDNA uses Real-Time PCR technology to provide the best and most accurate form of Leishmania detection. This technology is however mostly dependent on the type of sample provided. Even though it is common practice that veterinarians provide whole blood samples in EDTA bottles, it is sometimes better to also provide swabs from a mucosal ulcer found on the skin of the animal. This is because if the infection is still in its early stages and infection of the blood stream has not yet occurred, DNA of the bacteria may not be present in the blood and thus not detectable.

Always inform the lab of the condition of the animal, in order for us to be able to provide you with the quickest service possible and thus be able to provide the veterinarian with a quick result to save your pet.

Sampling requirements

For leishmaniasis a number of sample types can be provided: