Have you rehomed or imported a dog from abroad – or travelled with your dog outside the UK? If so, you may need to be aware of this disease.
With a sudden increase in recent cases of Brucella Canis in the UK, the veterinary community is raising awareness of the risks posed to dogs and owners by the disease. It is a bacterial disease which is spread by contact with bodily fluids, for example, urine, saliva, blood and reproductive fluids. Even if a dog does not show any signs of ill health, they can be carrying Brucella Canis, and as a zoonotic disease, dogs can pass the infection directly to humans, where it can cause extreme illness and infertility.
Risks to health
Sadly, the risks have been highlighted by a recent case where a woman who fostered an imported rescue dog became very unwell. She was hospitalised for two weeks with a Brucella infection, and tests confirmed that three out of four of her own dogs had contracted the disease.
For dogs who do show symptoms these include neck or spinal pain, eye pain, swelling or pain in the testicles, discharge from vulva or penis and infertility or abortion. More non-specific symptoms include lethargy and lameness. Brucellosis is mainly a disease of the reproductive systems in both males and females and is most commonly spread via mating or contaminated birth product.
It is still rare in the UK but there is growing concern due to an increase in imported dogs from areas such as Romania and an increase in the number of dogs testing positive. The disease is very difficult to treat and euthanasia is often advised to prevent further spread, even if the dog does not show clinical signs. This is because there is a need to keep an infected dog entirely separate from other animals, with a consequent loss of quality of life, not to mention the ongoing risk posed to human carers. As a notifiable disease, all positive cases are reported to the Animal and Plant Health Agency.
In view of these risks, we have implemented a practice policy in line with many veterinary establishments, in order to protect of clients and staff. All newly registered dogs that have been imported from overseas since January 2020 (or have been mated with an overseas dog), will require Brucellosis testing; we are also contacting owners of all registered imported animals since this time, to inform them of the risks, and that we will require testing to be undertaken prior to any diagnostic tests or procedures. This test must be undertaken by an APHA approved lab and have been done at least three months AFTER the animal arrived in the UK, as infection can take up to three months to be detectable in antibodies. It is also notable that some veterinary referral centres require dogss that have travelled abroad to be tested prior to treatment.
The test costs approximately £140.00 and results take about two weeks. Please contact us on 01736 330331 to discuss your dogs health and to raise any concerns.
More details can be found via the following links: