SINCE the introduction of the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) in 2000, many thousands of pets have travelled between Britain and the European mainland with their owners. These animals have all been vaccinated against rabies and have also been treated for tapeworms and ticks before entering or re-entering the UK, as stipulated by DEFRA, in order to reduce the risk of importation of rabies, the zoonotic tapeworm Echinococcus species and ticks not already endemic in the UK. However, these precautions do not necessarily prevent British pets from contracting other exotic diseases while visiting countries covered by PETS, and the aim of this occasional series is to provide practical advice on the most important of these. Among the potentially fatal diseases which may be transmitted to a cat or dog, in spite of rigorous adherence to the DEFRA regulations, is leishmaniasis. This article discusses the diagnosis and treatment of this zoonotic parasitic disease in dogs and cats, and outlines some of the factors which influence the risk of transmission to the travelling pet. In doing so, it concentrates on the disease situation in Europe, while noting that, with the recent extension of PETS to North America, the picture is constantly evolving.
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