Do You Know About Canine Brucellosis?
This week the British Veterinary Association – BVA issued a statement on a bacterial infection called Brucella canis, which is being increasingly diagnosed in dogs rescued from other countries, especially Romania.
This bacteria can infect humans and for those who are young or already ill, it can cause serious disease. Thankfully, there have been no reported cases of people infected by dogs in the UK so far but it is really important we are aware of the infection and are more vigilant, especially as numbers of dogs from abroad are continuing to rise, with a 50% increase in dogs from Romania alone between 2019 and 2020.
Unfortunately, Brucellosis doesn’t cause many symptoms in infected dogs and once the bacteria is in their system, it is impossible to clear, even with treatment. It is passed in bodily fluids, especially reproductive fluids, but is also present in blood, urine and saliva.
If you are considering rescuing a dog from abroad (which can be very rewarding!), ask the charity if your potential new pet has been screened Brucella Canis by a reputable laboratory and you should ensure they have been confirmed as clear.
If you already have a foreign rescue dog and they haven’t been checked yet, you can ask your vet about running the tests.
Unfortunately, given the potential seriousness of the condition in humans and the difficulty of clearing the infection in dogs, meaning they will always be a potential risk to their family and other people and dogs, the veterinary advice is often to euthanise them.
Which is an incredibly difficult thing to think about but the risks can be too great, especially if there are children or old or sick people in the family and this is why screening before rehoming is so incredibly important.
Otherwise the advice for positive dogs is to neuter them (it is often sexually transmitted and passed most often in reproductive fluids) and to restrict their access at all times to other dogs and people.
It is also sensible that veterinary professionals wear PPE when caring for foreign rescue dogs if they haven’t been screened for Brucella canis.
To give homes to dogs from other countries is a wonderful thing to do and as a nation of animal lovers, we should be very proud of this tradition.
However, it is also vital that we ensure the pets we welcome are healthy, both physically and mentally, and that they aren’t a potential risk to either people or other animals.
This can be done easily and quickly with rigorous testing and in the case of positive results, they should remain where they are and be cared for there.
The BVA report; https://www.bva.co.uk/…/brucella-canis-what-vets-need…/
A ‘Risk and Review’ statement from the government about Brucella Canis; https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/…/20210210…
Information about Brucella Canis infections; https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/canine-brucellosis