Brucella Canis: A Concerning Bacterial Infection Spreading Among Dogs and Humans in the UK

Brucella Canis: A Concerning Bacterial Infection Spreading Among Dogs and Humans in the UK

A bacterial infection known as Brucella canis, typically found in dogs, has made its way to the UK and is rapidly spreading among canines for the first time within the country. This disease poses a significant threat as it is mostly incurable and can result in various health issues such as infertility, lameness, and chronic pain.

Alarmingly, three human cases of Brucella canis have been identified in the UK since 2022, marking the first recorded instances of human infection in the country. These cases have been linked to contact with infected dogs, either through direct exposure or adopting puppies from infected canines.

While Brucella canis is not yet classified as endemic in the UK and is considered low risk for the general population, certain groups such as dog breeders, veterinarians, and dog owners are at a slightly higher risk of exposure. The disease’s transmission usually occurs through breeding in kennels.

The Human Animal Infections and Risk Surveillance (HAIRS) group assessed the risk posed by Brucella canis and found it to be ‘very low’ for the general population. However, individuals with weakened immune systems may face greater risks if infected.

An increase in reported cases can be attributed to heightened awareness and testing efforts within the veterinary community. HAIRS recommends pre-export testing for dogs entering the UK and advocates for appropriate personal protective equipment usage among veterinarians treating these imported animals. The UK government is actively considering implementing mandatory testing for dogs imported from Brucella canis hotspots.

Brucella canis infection is a lifelong disease with no known cure, although it is not an immediate threat to the lives of affected animals. In humans, the infection typically manifests as mild flu-like symptoms, making it challenging to diagnose. However, severe infections of the heart, bone, brain tissue, and blood can occur in rare cases.

To keep your dogs and yourself safe from Brucella canis infection, it is crucial to keep them away from infected dogs or imported dogs. Thoroughly clean and disinfect any areas that have been in contact with infected dogs or their bodily fluids. If your dog is infected, isolate them from others and seek treatment from a registered veterinarian.

– UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA)
– Dr. Christine Middlemiss, chief veterinary officer at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)
– Human Animal Infections and Risk Surveillance (HAIRS) group

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