Recently we have been made aware of a potential health concern regarding pets from certain regions. Specifically there have been a rising number of cases of canine Brucellosis, reported in pets from countries of Eastern and Southern Europe, as well as other parts of the world.
Brucellosis is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Brucella canis. The infection can spread between dogs but also to humans and can cause serious illness. It is now reportable to the APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency) and all veterinary practices are being advised to implement certain protocols to protect owners, veterinary staff and our UK dog population from this disease.
How is the disease spread?
The risk of spread is mainly by bodily fluids from the infected dog (e.g. birthing fluids, bitches in season, semen, urine, saliva and blood) coming into contact with the eyes, mouth, nose or broken skin of a human or other dog. This means the highest risk of spread is mating, giving birth and to veterinary staff perfoming surgery.
What are the clinical symptoms?
The majority of dogs carrying Brucella do not show any symptoms at all and therefore a blood test is required to identify the disease. However, symptoms can include infertility, lack of appetite, pain, lameness, weight loss, swollen glands and muscle weakness.
In people symptoms can include high temperatures, enlarged lymph nodes, headaches and problems in pregnancy. In otherwise healthy people the disease can be mild, however, people who have a compromised immune system, pregnant women and young children are at higher risk of severe infection.
Why are we telling you this?
So we can ensure the protection of our staff we have implemented a Brucella testing protocol.
When you register your pet with us you will be asked whether they have ever travelled to or been imported from overseas. All pets who have travelled to or from high risk countries will be required to have a negative Brucellosis test prior to registering (please see below for a list of countries deemed high risk). If your pet has already been tested, we will ask you to provide us with details and copies of laboratory reports for our records.
If you are an existing client, but your pet has not yet had a Brucella test, we would advise you call us to arrange an appointment for blood sampling. The sample will be sent to an external laboratory for testing. At the time of writing the cost of this test is £121.40.
Whilst testing is not compulsory for existing clients, sadly in the event that surgery or hospitalisation may be advised in the future, the absence of a negative test may delay our ability to proceed with further investigations or treatment until results are available. No ‘elective’ or ‘non-emergency’ surgery will be performed until a negative blood test is received.
To those clients that this affects it is important to emphasize whilst we want to take precautionary measures, there is no need for unnecessary alarm. Whilst this may feel worrying, Brucellosis is still very rare in the UK, and these steps are in place to help safeguard your health and well-being as well as protecting our team. By working together we hope to stop this disease from becoming endemic in the UK. More details about Brucella canis can be found at the link below.
Countries deemed high risk:
- North Macedonia
- Republic of Kosovo
- Republic of Moldova