Orchard Vet's Blog

Information regarding recent Brucellosis cases


What is Brucellosis?
Brucella canis is a contagious bacterial disease found in many parts of the world but, until recently, not in the UK. In the last year, there have been a number of increased cases of Brucellosis diagnosed in dogs across the UK both in imported dogs and those in close contact with them.

This infection can spread between dogs but also to humans. Unfortunately, many dogs carry Brucella without showing any symptoms at all so, just because your imported dog is well, or has been in the UK for years already, does not indicate it is of no risk to yourself or others.

Symptomatic dogs show a variety of illnesses ranging from:
  • lameness
  • lethargy
  • back ache
  • skin issues
  • enlarged lymph nodes
  • eye diseases
  • reproductive failures.

    Symptoms in people include:
  • fluctuating high temperatures
  • enlarged lymph nodes
  • headaches
  • problems in pregnancy and fertility.

    How we’re managing it
    When we identify if an animal is imported, whether they are an existing client or not, we will ask for proof of a Brucellosis test certificate that has been issued in the UK 3 months after the dog has entered the country. For animals that don’t have this certificate, we advise a test for Brucellosis. The cost of this test is £165, or free for existing members of our Pal for Life pet health scheme. We are unable to accept clients who decline the test. This unfortunately means that if you decline to have your pet tested regardless of being on our Pet Health Scheme, we can regrettably no longer have you/your pet as a member of our practice.

    If your pet tests positive, we will advise on a case-by-case basis how we can continue to offer veterinary care. We will wear PPE every time we see your dog, will have to arrange specific times to see your dog and will need you to wait outside before coming to any appointments.

    Government advice
    Because this infection can spread to humans it is reportable to APHA (the government Animal and Plant Health Agency).

    • If the APHA test is negative, no further action will be required. However, if it is within 3 months of arriving in the UK, you might consider doing a second test 3 months after arrival.

    • If the APHA test is positive for Brucellosis: This will have to be reported to the Government via the Animal and Plant Health Agency. The APHA will then contact you and advise you further.

    As there is no treatment that is likely to cure the disease (antibiotics can be used for months but rarely eliminate the disease so infected dogs can remain infectious and a risk to others, for life), it is likely that APHA will recommend your dog is euthanised. This is not compulsory. If you decide not to carry this out then treatment including months of antibiotics and neutering will be advised to reduce spread but, as above, this is unlikely to eliminate the disease and the surcharges above will be charged during any consultation or hospital stay, and may entail constraints practice services for staff protection.

    For more information click here