Rare dog disease is now spreading to humans in UK. It is incurable in canines | World News - Hindustan Times
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Rare dog disease is now spreading to humans in UK. It is incurable in canines

Sep 19, 2023 07:21 PM IST

Three people in the UK have contracted a bacterial infection known as Brucella canis, which is commonly found in dogs.

Three people in the UK have till now contracted a bacterial infection, which is commonly confined to dogs, known as Brucella canis. The disease causes pain, lameness and infertility in canines.

Symptoms of Brucella canis in dogs can include lethargy, premature aging, and back pain, although some dogs may not exhibit any symptoms at all.(REUTERS)
Symptoms of Brucella canis in dogs can include lethargy, premature aging, and back pain, although some dogs may not exhibit any symptoms at all.(REUTERS)

In dogs, the disease is incurable and life-threatening, while usually mild in human cases, it can potentially result in meningitis and septicemia, reported The Independent.

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Wendy Hayes, an elderly who owns five dogs, was the first person to be diagnosed with the infection in the UK last year.

Infection being transmitted from Eastern Europe

Hayes was forced to put down her family dogs after she got the disease through her rescue dog, Moosha’s, birthing fluids. A second person with the infection worked at a vets but had no symptoms and was identified through routine testing, stated the report.

Since the summer of 2020, there has been a growing number of cases of Brucella canis infection in dogs, with the majority of cases linked to dogs imported from Eastern Europe to the UK.

Wendi Shepherd, who leads the Emerging Infections and Zoonoses division at UKHSA, told The Independent that Brucella canis is a dog-borne infection that can potentially be transmitted to humans. She noted that there have been a few cases of Brucella canis reported in people in the UK this year. However, the overall risk to the UK population is quite low, and even those who have had close contact with an infected dog face a relatively low risk.

91 cases of Brucella canis in dogs this year

Shepherd also pointed out that globally, Brucella canis infections in humans have generally been mild. Nevertheless, individuals with weakened immune systems, pregnant women, or young children may be more susceptible to experiencing more severe infections.

The number of reported Brucella canis cases in dogs has increased significantly, rising from just nine cases in 2020 to 91 cases reported in the UK this year. While the disease is not always life-threatening in dogs, it is incurable, and the only means of controlling its transmission is euthanizing infected animals.

Symptoms of Brucella canis in dogs can include lethargy, premature aging, and back pain, although some dogs may not exhibit any symptoms at all.

Symptoms in humans

No fatal cases of Brucella canis infection in humans have been reported, but possible symptoms can encompass fever, headaches, weight loss, and, in more severe instances, meningitis, septicaemia, and arthritis. It's worth noting that symptoms of the infection may take years to manifest and could recur over several years.

While there have been no confirmed cases of human-to-human transmission of the disease, there is a possibility of transmission through blood transfusion.

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