Brucellosis: Dogs’ Infectious Disease Spreads to Humans in the UK, First 2 Cases Confirmed
Brucellosis, an infectious disease commonly seen in dogs, has now spilled over to humans, with the first two cases reported in the UK. This alarming development highlights the need for vigilance and preventive measures to contain the spread of the disease.
The Emergence of Brucellosis in Dogs and Humans
According to a recent study by the Human Animal Infections and Risk Surveillance group, the presence of Brucellosis caused by Brucella canis has been on the rise among local dogs since 2020. Previously, it had only been observed in dogs imported into the UK. However, as of July 2023, two cases of B. canis infection in humans have been confirmed in the country. One case was identified based on clinical suspicion after the individual presented at the hospital, while the second case was discovered during the follow-up of people exposed to infected dogs. Notably, these dogs had not been known to be infected during the period of human exposure but later tested positive for the infection.
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Transmission and Symptoms
Brucella canis, the bacteria responsible for the disease, primarily spreads through interactions between dogs, such as social, sexual, and grooming activities. In humans, the illness may take weeks to years to manifest, with common symptoms including fever, headaches, and muscle discomfort. Severe complications such as endocarditis, arthritis, meningitis, and Guillain-Barré syndrome are extremely rare. It is crucial to note that there have been no reported cases of Brucellosis resulting in human fatalities.
Prevention and Control Measures
While the transmission of B. canis from person to person is theoretically possible, no such cases have been reported. However, other Brucella species have been known to spread through contact with reproductive tissues, blood transfusion, and organ donation, although these occurrences are rare. To curb the spread of B. canis, the UK government is considering implementing screening measures to prevent infected animals from entering the country and to control the disease among dogs. Due to B. canis’ resistance to antibiotic therapy, euthanasia is currently the only effective method to prevent infected dogs from transmitting the disease. The research suggests that euthanizing affected dogs is the only way to eliminate the risk of future transmission.
The recent spillover of Brucellosis from dogs to humans in the UK underscores the importance of proactive measures to prevent and control the disease. Screening programs and euthanasia of infected animals are being considered to minimize the spread among canines and mitigate the risk to human health. It is crucial for pet owners and veterinarians to make informed decisions based on individual circumstances, considering the potential risks involved. By taking these steps, we can safeguard both human and canine populations from the threat of Brucellosis.