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Brucella canis - a risk from imported dogs

This disease is found in dogs in many parts of the world but until recently it had not been discovered in the UK. During the last year, though, there were a number of cases spread across the United Kingdom in dogs. This included dog-to-dog and dog-to-human transmission. The disease is reportable to the government Animal and Plant Health Agency. There is no effective cure.

Infected dogs can be symptomless but may have various aches and pains and enlarged lymph nodes, but as it is primarily a disease of the reproductive system it causes breeding problems and reproductive failures. Symptoms in humans include fluctuating high temperatures, headaches, enlarged lymph nodes and problems in pregnancy – very much like dogs. Spread to humans is from body fluids so whelping, mating and operating on dogs all carry the risk of infection.

The British Veterinary Association has called for pre-import testing to minimise the spread of this and other exotic diseases and the government is considering this.

Defra produced a summary information sheet on canine brucellosis in May 2021, available online.

If you have imported a dog from outside the UK (especially Eastern Europe) or are thinking of doing so, you should ensure it has a negative test (before importing it).

Roger Sainsbury BVM&S MRCVS


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