Covid-19 Coronavirus

Brucella Canis

Brucella canis is a zoonotic bacterium (meaning that it can cause disease in humans). The preferred host of B.canis is dogs and it causes the disease canine brucellosis. Abortion material from infected animals contains very high numbers of infectious B. canis cells and contact with this is one of the main ways in which both dogs and humans can acquire infection. However it can be transmitted via urine, blood, semen and also from mother to pup.

The Brucella species we have historically been most concerned about are those infecting livestock due to the production losses that result and the threat to public health. Globally it is estimated that between three million and 12.5 million people a year contract brucellosis from animals, almost exclusively livestock. GB is free from brucellosis in livestock and wildlife and, until recently, it was also not found in dogs.

As with other animals (but not humans) the disease in dogs causes abortions although some pregnancies can be successful. Infected dogs also frequently acquire other clinical signs - most often chronic and debilitating back and rear limb pain. However, some may appear visibly well yet can still be infectious and may go on to develop disease. Unfortunately, unlike in humans, the disease is not considered curable in dogs.

Before 2020 cases in the UK were rare and in single imported dogs. However more recently outbreaks have been found in breeding premises in England. Dogs imported from Romania have been highlighted as a particular concern, however it is important to note that Romania is by far the biggest source of commercially imported dogs into the UK. B.canis is present in other EU member states, therefore consideration should be given to the B.canis status of imported dogs from countries other than Romania. As with all non-endemic diseases mentioned here, there is no requirement to screen imported dogs for B.canis either before or after travel. Thus imported dogs from countries were B.canis is endemic potentially present an animal and public health risk.

A positive laboratory test for B.canis is now reportable in the UK and Isle of Man (private veterinary surgeons and laboratories should report the result to the Animal Health Office, DEFA).

Please see the UK government risk assessment on Brucella canis and also UK government information sheet on Brucella canis more information (please note the information on here represents disease specific advice for responsible dog owners rather than an official statement of government policy).

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