Q: What are the ricks to humans or other family pets when a dog has brucellois?

April 5, 2008 | By Susan L. | 2 answers | Expired: 2856 days ago

Susan L.

I have a friend who just got a yorkie with this.(Was not aware before he got her) His vet recommended that he have her spayed and take her home, that the risk to humans is very minute. He has a history of cancer, chemotherapy, and has had his spleen removed. The family has become very attached to this dog and doesn't know what to do. Any help would be appreciated.

Readers' Answers (2)
Jill R.

Apr 05, 2008

Canine brucellosis definitely poses a potential health hazard to humans. There is treatment, of course. With your friend's health history, this is definitely something he wants to speak to his MD about.

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Apr 05, 2008

Your friend is probably going to have to give the dog away, lest he become terribly sick.

This is from peteducation.com, per Drs. Foster & Smith:


Brucellosis is a disease caused by Brucella canis, which is a bacteria that was first isolated from dead puppy fetuses in the middle 1960’s. It is the most common bacteria that can infect bitches and their fetuses. Brucella canis also poses a significant public health hazard since it is transmissible to humans, especially those handling aborted fetuses. Humans may develop a serious liver impairment or arthritis.

Medical advancements in controlling this disease have been few and far between. Contrary to some opinions, it is a very difficult disorder to treat, and in most cases, treatment is unsuccessful. A prevalent attitude among many people is that "if my dogs get it, then I will treat it." This is a serious mistake because you probably will not cure it, and if you do, the individual will probably be sterile or be a poor breeding specimen.

Transmission of Brucella canis

B. canis is sexually transmitted by the mating of infected males and females. Brucella canis in the female dog will live in the vaginal and uterine tissue and secretions for years, and except in rare cases, for life. The infected female usually appears healthy with no signs of disease or indication that she is a 'carrier' or harborer of the organisms. She can spread the bacteria to other animals through her urine, aborted fetuses, or most commonly through the act of breeding. Once pregnant, the bacteria will also infect the developing fetuses causing illness.

In males, the Brucella bacteria live in the testicles and seminal fluids. An infected male is just as dangerous as the female as he can spread the Brucella bacteria via his urine or semen. Oftentimes, there are no signs except in advanced cases when the testicles may be uneven in size.

Litters are commonly aborted, usually in the last two weeks of gestation, or the puppies may die shortly after birth. If a pregnant dog aborts after 45 days of gestation, you should be highly suspicious of brucellosis.

The risks are great. Since the Brucella canis organisms are transmissible to humans, it is best to avoid all contact with the infected mother. Furthermore, she would likely transmit the disease to any male which breeds her causing fertility problems in him as well.

Testing for Brucellosis usually requires a blood test by your veterinarian and all positives should be retested for a confirmation. Since Brucella canis is mainly spread by the act of breeding, it is paramount to test all canines, male and female, prior to breeding. In other words, if a male (or female) was tested one year ago but has bred since, he must be tested again. In the case of a male, if he serviced a female since his last test, then he must be tested again even if his last test was as recent as four weeks ago. Testing is the only sure way to detect carriers.

All positive males and females should not be bred. Surgical spaying or neutering of these individuals is recommended. Various blood tests are available to screen breeding dogs (male and female) and identify those who are infected (carriers). All individuals used for breeding should be routinely tested prior to breeding.

There is no reliable treatment for Brucellosis. Brucella canis lives inside of the dog's cells so it is difficult to reach the bacteria with antibiotics. Various antibiotics such as doxycycline, minocycline, and dihydrostreptomycin have been partially effective at causing a temporary reduction in the bacterial organisms after several weeks of treatment. A complete cure is unlikely. It is recommended that infected animals be castrated or spayed.

Remember, statistically one out of ten dogs may be carriers and those are very disturbing odds."

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