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Brucellosis in imported dogs – an important update

It is important to highlight the recent increase in cases of Brucella canis infection diagnosed in the UK. Since summer 2020, the APHA has been notified of more than 40 cases of canine brucellosis. Almost all cases have been imported dogs, the vast majority from Romania. B. canis is not considered endemic in the UK and historically it has only rarely been diagnosed in imported dogs.

  1. B. canis is predominantly associated with reproductive failure, but other clinical signs include discospondylitis and uveitis, and infection can be subclinical. Zoonotic infection of B. canis is infrequently reported in humans but may be under-diagnosed, due to often vague clinical signs and lack of testing. Infected dogs pose a significant risk to owners, veterinary staff and laboratory staff processing pathology samples, particularly in individuals with certain underlying health conditions.

In order to identify cases and minimise the risk of infection and transmission to other dogs or humans the following measures are recommended:

  • Highlight risk to clients importing dogs from Eastern Europe (particularly Romania) or those travelling with their pets to this region. Encourage potential owners to request pre-export testing and consider pre-breeding testing.
  • Highlight risk to the veterinary team and routinely ascertain the origin and travelling history of dogs (and their parents) when they are registered and seen.
  • Ensure appropriate testing is performed and PPE is used in suspected clinical cases.
  • Notify diagnostic laboratories clearly on submission forms of the import/travelling history when submitting samples from these patients to enable us to take appropriate precautions, regardless of whether they have clinical signs of Brucellosis. Ensure sample packaging is appropriately biosecure. This also helps protect us against other potential pathogens in addition to B. canis.

Further information can be found at the following link:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/960013/20210210_Brucella_canis_statement.pdf