To describe the presence of Leishmania infection within the animal population receiving care from US Army Veterinary Services.
629 canine, feline, and equine patients of US Army Veterinary Services from 2014 to 2017.
Personnel at the US Army Public Health Center ran a query within the Remote Online Veterinary Record system using previously validated search terms (eg, liesh, leish, and lesh) and returned data on any patient for which the master problem list included those terms. Next, a query was run to identify all leishmaniasis testing. Records identified by queries were reviewed manually, and data were collected on patient signalment, indication for and type of testing, location of testing, and previous locations or country of the patient.
Only dogs (n = 378), not cats or horses, had been tested for leishmaniasis, 54 (14.3%) of which tested positive for Leishmania infection. More specifically, 39 of 104 (37.5%) privately owned dogs tested positive, compared with 15 of 274 (5.6%) government-owned dogs. Overall, 186 dogs had no clinical signs, 12 (6.5%) of which tested positive. Forty-four of the 54 (81%) test-positive dogs were located in or had traveled to an endemic area.
The prevalence of leishmaniasis in the various subpopulations of dogs suggested the need for additional prevalence studies. Many animals travel in and out of the US, and repeated introduction of Leishmania spp could lead to this vector-borne disease becoming endemic in the US animal and human populations. Consequently, US veterinarians need to ensure proper testing and follow-up to protect one health.