You may have seen reports in the press recently about an outbreak of Brucellosis in the UK where an untested rescue dog was imported with the disease. Sadly the fosterer is extremely ill with an infection and four other dogs had to be put to sleep. Brucellosis was once eliminated in the UK but as a country we are starting to see more and more cases.
What is Brucellosis?
There are many different species of the Brucella bacteria – the form in cattle was eliminated in the UK in 1985, and is still a Notifiable Disease, but in dogs the most common type is Brucella Canis. The bacteria affects the reproductive tract, a wide range of symptoms occur, including lethargy, premature ageing, pain and lameness.
How is Brucellosis transmitted?
The bacteria are primarily transmitted through reproductive fluids, however blood and other body fluids may in infectious.
What is the treatment?
Sadly there is no effective treatment in dogs that will reliably eliminate the bacteria. Infected dogs can show sings of improvement with antibiotics but will become infectious again in the future. Due to the risks to human health and other dogs, the government rules mean that dogs who test positive have to be put to sleep.
How can outbreaks be prevented?
At the moment, although Brucellosis is a Reportable Disease in the UK, there is no mandatory requirement to test before or even after import – it will only be picked up if a vet suspects the disease and sends off specific tests for it. Many organisations do routinely test dogs when importing them, but not all. If you rescue a dog from abroad we would encourage you to make sure they have been tested for your safety and that of other dogs.