Three British citizens have been infected with Brucella canis, an incurable dog disease previously unseen in UK canines. This bacterial infection can cause infertility, mobility issues, and discomfort in affected dogs, and it can be transmitted to humans through contact with infected bodily fluids.
According to a British government report, since summer 2020, there has been an increasing number of reports of Brucella canis infection in dogs. The majority of these cases have been directly imported into the UK from Eastern Europe.
The British Veterinary Association has mentioned that Public Health England has assessed the present circumstances and offers essential guidance to veterinary experts and organisations engaged in the import of dogs from regions where Brucella canis is prevalent.
- The greatest risk of exposure is potential contact with Brucella canis-contaminated materials, especially tissues and fluids associated with breeding and parturition.
- Brucella canis is also shed in a dog’s bodily fluids, such as urine, blood, and saliva.
- If positive, a dog is considered infected for life, even after antimicrobial treatment.
- Human cases are rarely reported, and none have been confirmed following contact with an infected dog in the UK.
In dogs, the disease is untreatable, and government guidelines advocate for euthanasia as the recommended course of action. However, for humans, effective treatment is available through an extended regimen of antibiotics.
The British government said in the statement about the disease that even following antimicrobial treatment, an animal is considered infected for life and therefore could present a risk of onward infection to canine and human contacts. Thus, euthanasia of infected dogs is considered the only way to completely remove the risk of onward transmission. The decision to euthanize is a matter for the owner(s) and their private veterinary surgeon.
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