“Yes, it is a strong suspicion, but still a suspicion, and we are sending a sample overseas for confirmation, or hopefully not confirmation. But that can take up to two weeks,” says MAST veterinary specialist Vigdís Tryggvadóttir.
Brucella canis is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be transmitted between animals and humans, or vice versa. The main symptoms of the disease in dogs are the death of foetuses late in pregnancy, still-born puppies, or sick puppies that die shortly after birth, as well as Epididymitis in males. The main infection route is through mating or very close contact.
Human infection is rare
It is rare for brucella canis to infect humans, but symptoms in people include fever, shivering, dysphoria, loss of appetite, bone or muscle aches, and lymph node inflammation. Symptoms can appear a few days, or even months, after contact and children under five, as well as immuno-suppressed people and pregnant women are more at risk than others.
The main transmission route into humans is while assisting an infected bitch giving birth to puppies. Dog breeders and vets are therefore more likely to be exposed. Symptoms can range from mild illness to serious. The disease does not generally spread between humans.
“Brucella canis is endemic in many European countries and also in Asia and elsewhere. It has never been diagnosed here and is rare in some other European countries. This has never come up here and we would dearly like to keep it outside of our borders,” Vigdís says.
She adds that one case does not mean an epidemic has begun, and emphasises that very close, usually sexual, contact is required for transmission. Dogs are not at risk of infection in their daily lives.