Issued December 2023

Brucellosis is a bacterial infection. There are many species of Brucella present in various animals, but in dogs we usually mean Brucella canis. It is spread from one dog to another through contact, especially mating, or with infected birth fluids or tissues. Puppies can get infected through milk. It can be inhaled or spread through urine. Often dogs with the bacteria will show no signs of illness, but can still pass it on. Many dogs do become unwell and can present with a variety of symptoms.

Unfortunately, dogs can pass this bacteria on to people. Humans can catch it from breathing it in or through contact with infected dogs. People with a weak immune system or pregnant mothers are more at risk. Caring for a dog that is miscarrying or giving birth is particularly high risk. Humans can show signs of fever, headache, joint pain or other flu-like symptoms. It can be quite serious or potentially life-threatening.

Recently there have been some cases in the UK in people (see more below) who contracted the illness from imported dogs. Dogs from Romania have been highlighted as a particular concern, however Brucella canis is present in other EU member states as well.

At Saving Strays we have been testing for Brucellosis for over two years before dogs come across to the UK. We test at the point of rescue now and again before travel. Any dogs travelling from next year will be tested by APHA on couriered samples before entering the U.K. Recently, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has been trying to get the government to ensure pre-import testing to help mitigate the risks. The advice is now that all dogs, including ones that have been here for quite some time, be tested. The government testing agency APHA recommend that serum samples are submitted for B. canis SAT (Serum Agglutination Test) and B. canis iELISA. These tests are marginally more sensitive and specific than the ones available in Bosnia, and are now considered best practice. Because the bacteria can be asymptomatic, the general advice is that testing should be done 3 months after the last suspected exposure.

My Vet has seen my dog before without testing, why now?

My dog has been here for 5 years, why am I having to test?

Do I need to test if my dog goes abroad on holiday?

I don’t want to test my dog, what happens now?

My dog has already had blood testing before?

How common is this disease?