Three Brits Catch Bacterial Infection From Dogs For First time

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A disease that can jump from canines to humans has started spreading between dogs in Britain for the first time.

The UK Health Security agency has confirmed that three Brits have also been infected with Brucella canis an incurable bacterial infection that can lead to infertility, lameness and pain in dogs.

In the past most of the cases in the UK had been isolated incidents among animals imported from Romania where the disease is endemic, but Government experts now say that they have spotted the first known case of the disease spreading among animals in the UK.

The Mail Online reports: the human cases of Brucella canis were spotted as of July this year, health chiefs said. Cases among dogs in the UK have also skyrocketed in this time, with a record 91 already spotted this year.

Dr Christine Middlemiss, chief veterinary officer at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), told The Telegraph: ‘We have had spread of a case in the UK to another dog in the UK. It is through breeding in kennels.

‘There is not a lot – there is very little. But that is new for us.’

These UK-native cases of Brucella canis came from British dogs that had either had contact with an imported dog or were the offspring of an imported dog.

This means the disease isn’t considered endemic in the UK and is still officially classified as low risk.

Human Animal Infections and Risk Surveillance (HAIRS), a cross-Government group, today published a report on the risk Brucella canis poses.

HAIRS found that there is a ‘very low’ risk of someone in the population becoming infected.

However, dog breeders, people who work at vets or kennels and owners of infected dogs, are slightly more at risk of being exposed — but this is still classed as ‘low’, the HAIRS report states.

The group also found while the health risks of a Brucella canis infection were generally low, severe cases with life threatening complications had been reported and immunocompromised individuals could be at greater risk.

In total three cases in people in the UK have been confirmed, two of which were spotted this year.

The first was detected after attending hospital for their symptoms, while the second was found in an asymptomatic person working at a vets who was routinely tested after contact with an infected dog. 

HAIRS recommended that dog breeders and charities importing dogs from overseas should carry out pre-export testing for the disease.

They also advised that vets treating dogs imported from overseas use appropriate PPE to help minimise the risk of a potential infection.

Dr Middlemiss said the Government was currently considering introducing a mandatory testing requirement for dogs imported from Brucella canis hotspots. 

Niamh Harris
About Niamh Harris 15013 Articles
I am an alternative health practitioner interested in helping others reach their maximum potential.