AAEP Guidelines for Equine Cutaneous Leishmaniasis
Horses might serve as sentinels of Leishmaniasis infection in humans and other animals, where it can be fatal.
sand fly
Equine Cutaneous Leishmaniasis is endemic in tropical and subtropical regions of the world, with the common mode of transmission from sandfly bites.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) has published on its website comprehensive guidelines to assist practitioners with diagnostics, clinical signs, risk factors, treatment and other considerations of Equine Cutaneous Leishmaniasis, a non-fatal infection that causes cutaneous lesions most commonly observed as nodules on the head, pinnae, scrotum, legs and neck.

Although rarely seen in the United States, Equine Cutaneous Leishmaniasis is endemic in tropical and subtropical regions of the world, including South America, western and central Europe, and the Middle East, where infection via sandfly bites is the most common mode of transmission. The infection is not directly contagious; however, confirmed diagnosis in one horse may suggest the presence of infected vectors in the area and the need to implement vector control measures. Most clinical cases in horses spontaneously resolve within 3 to 6 months, although therapeutic intervention may be performed for persistent or recurrent cases.

“While cutaneous leishmaniasis in horses is fortunately not fatal, Leishmania organisms in people and dogs can result in systemic and fatal syndromes. So horses may serve as sentinels of infection,” said guidelines co-author Sarah Reuss, VMD, DACVIM, equine technical manager with Boehringer Ingelheim.

Most cases of Equine Cutaneous Leishmaniasis in the U.S. have occurred in horses with international travel or recently imported from endemic areas, however cases have been documented in horses that have never left the U.S. As an OIE-reportable disease, suspect or confirmed cases should be reported to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and state animal health officials.

Dr. Reuss co-authored the Equine Cutaneous Leishmaniasis Guidelines with Sharon Tirosh-Levy, DVM, PhD, from the Koret School of Veterinary Medicine of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and Gad Baneth, DVM, PhD, ECVCP, professor and Rybak-Pearson Chair in Veterinary Medicine at the Koret School of Veterinary Medicine of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The guidelines were reviewed and approved by the AAEP’s Infectious Disease Committee and board of directors.

View the Equine Cutaneous Leishmaniasis Guidelines or save them to your mobile device as a PDF file at https://aaep.org/document/equine-cutaneous-leishmaniasis. Besides Equine Cutaneous Leishmaniasis, AAEP guidelines for five other foreign animal diseases are available at https://aaep.org/infectious-disease-control/foreign-animal-disease-guidelines. In addition, AAEP guidelines for 24 other equine infectious diseases are available at  https://aaep.org/guidelines/infectious-disease-control/using-guidelines.

About AAEP

The American Association of Equine Practitioners, headquartered in Lexington, Ky., was founded in 1954 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the health and welfare of the horse. Currently, AAEP reaches more than 5 million horse owners through its over 9,000 members worldwide and is actively involved in ethics issues, practice management, research and continuing education in the equine veterinary profession and horse industry.

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