Canine Disease Brucellosis Identified in Humans in the U.K.

Canine Disease Brucellosis Identified in Humans in the U.K.

Two individuals in the U.K. have been diagnosed with brucellosis, a canine disease caused by Brucella canis, according to a recent report by the Human Animal Infections and Risk Surveillance group. Previously, this disease had only been seen in dogs imported into the U.K., but since 2020, it has been spreading between local dogs, leading to human infections.

Both cases of B. canis human infection were identified in July 2023. One individual presented at a hospital with clinical suspicion, while the other, who showed no symptoms, worked at a veterinary practice and was identified through contact tracing of individuals exposed to positive dogs. In both incidents, the dogs involved were not known to be infected at the time of human exposure but later tested positive.

This outbreak among U.K.-native dogs is believed to be the result of breeding in kennels, as local dogs have come into contact and mated with imported dogs or their offspring. B. canis is a bacteria that infects dogs and is transmitted through social, grooming, and sexual activities, primarily via the genital, conjunctival, and oronasal mucosae.

The incubation period for the disease in humans can range from weeks to years. Symptoms typically include fever, headaches, and muscle pain. In rare cases, complications such as endocarditis, arthritis, meningitis, and Guillain Barré syndrome may occur. However, there have been no recorded human deaths from the disease.

According to the report, there are no known cases of human-to-human transmission of B. canis, although it is theoretically possible through blood transfusion, organ transplantation, or contact with reproductive tissues. To prevent the spread of the disease among dogs, the U.K. government is considering implementing B. canis screening to identify and prevent infected animals from entering the country.

Given the bacteria’s resistance to antimicrobial treatment, euthanasia is currently considered the most effective method to eliminate the risk of future transmission. However, the decision to euthanize infected dogs is ultimately up to the owners and their private veterinary surgeons.

– Human Animal Infections and Risk Surveillance group, September 18 report

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