New Cases of Brucella Canis Found in Humans in the UK

New Cases of Brucella Canis Found in Humans in the UK

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has issued a warning after confirming that cases of brucella canis, a disease previously only found in dogs, have been diagnosed in humans in the UK for the first time. While the infections are rarely fatal, they can cause serious symptoms and side effects, especially in individuals with weakened immune systems, pregnant women, and young children.

The majority of dog infections since 2020 have been imported from eastern Europe, indicating a potential link to the spread of the disease in humans. Brucella canis is shed in a dog’s bodily fluids, such as blood, urine, and saliva, and the greatest risk of exposure is through contact with contaminated materials.

The symptoms of brucella canis in humans are non-specific and can include fever, headache, general feeling of discomfort, aches and pains, and weight loss. While severe symptoms and complications are rare, they can include conditions such as endocarditis, osteomyelitis, arthritis, meningitis, and sepsis.

For dogs, brucella canis is a contagious bacterial infection that typically affects their reproductive system. Male dogs may experience infections in the testicles, leading to an enlarged scrotum or testicle, while female dogs may develop infections in the uterus, potentially causing infertility, difficulty in getting pregnant, or miscarriage.

The UKHSA acknowledges that the risk to the general public in the UK is very low, but individuals who have had close contact with an infected dog should take precautionary measures. While antibiotics can help control the infection in dogs, no treatment effectively eliminates the bacteria, and infected dogs will remain carriers for life. Surgical sterilisation is recommended to reduce the risk of transmission to other dogs.

Sources: UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), VCA

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