Understanding the Risks to Pets and Humans

What is Brucellosis?

Brucellosis is a significant infection of imported overseas dogs, primarily caused by the bacteria Brucella canis in dogs. This disease, which affects a range of animals, is of particular concern due to its zoonotic nature, meaning it can be transmitted from animals to humans. In dogs, Brucellosis often leads to reproductive problems and can persist as a chronic condition. It’s essential for pet owners to be aware of this infection, both for the health of their pets and for the potential risk to their own health. Understanding and identifying Brucellosis is the first step in effective management and prevention of this disease.

What are the Signs of Brucellosis in Dogs?

Recognising the signs of Brucellosis in dogs is crucial for timely intervention. Infected dogs may exhibit various symptoms, including but not limited to, reproductive issues such as infertility, miscarriages, or stillbirths. Other signs might include lethargy, lack of appetite, swollen lymph nodes, and intermittent fever. Some dogs may also show back pain or behavioral changes. Since these symptoms can be subtle and varied, regular veterinary check-ups are vital for early detection and management of the disease.

How is Brucellosis Passed from Dogs to Humans?

Transmission of Brucellosis from dogs to humans, although rare, is a serious concern. The most common route of transmission is through direct contact with infected bodily fluids, such as blood, urine, or reproductive discharges. People handling these fluids, particularly in veterinary or kennel environments, are at higher risk. Inhalation of aerosolised particles containing the bacteria can also lead to infection. It’s important to maintain strict hygiene practices when dealing with infected animals or their secretions to prevent the spread of the disease to humans.

How does Brucellosis Affect Humans?

In humans, Brucellosis can present a range of symptoms, often resembling flu-like conditions. These include fever, muscle and joint pain, fatigue, and general malaise.

More severe cases may lead to complications involving the nervous system, heart, or liver. The symptoms can vary in intensity and duration, and in some cases, may become chronic. Due to its nonspecific symptoms, Brucellosis in humans can be challenging to diagnose without specific testing. It’s important for individuals who have been in contact with infected dogs or who exhibit these symptoms to seek medical attention promptly. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to managing the effects of Brucellosis in humans and preventing long-term health complications.

What can we do to help prevent Brucellosis?

The risk of your dog being infected are low, however if they do test positive then they are a risk to human health.

The highest risk dogs are those that have been imported or mated/bred from.

We need to protect dogs who are in our care and also our staff, especially those of child
bearing age who may be pregnant or trying to conceive. Therefore, we are now routinely testing all dogs imported from the countries listed below for Brucellosis before treatment can be provided.

Imported dogs not listed on the low risk Countries will be tested, including: Russia, USA, Canada, Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Republic of Kosovo, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, and Ukraine. The list is not exhaustive and may change so please call the Practice if you have a query.

Hospitalised dogs without adequate negative results will be kept in isolation to protect other patients in the practice and staff caring for them.

Should surgical procedures need to be carried out we will follow procedures to protect veterinary staff from potential exposure.


Blood Testing

We use a specific serological test that has the best diagnostic sensitivity.

Each patient will need an individual evaluation from one of our Veterinary Surgeons where they can decide on a plan of action. It will be decided at this point how many blood tests will be required. It could be between 1-4 samples.

Once your pet has had adequate negative results they should not pose any health risk to other dogs or people.


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