Kansas farmers have long been aware of the danger of Brucellosis in cattle, but the Kansas Animal Health Department has identified a new Brucellosis threat – dogs.
Incidents of canine brucellosis are on the upswing across the country, including in Kansas. Symptoms of the disease are those common to cattle – stillbirths, abortions, infertility and swollen reproductive areas.
Human health officials are concerned because there has been an increase in cases of human cases of canine brucellosis related to exposure to infected dogs. It is rare that illness in humans is severe, but it can be of major concern in people who have compromised immune systems or in children. In other people, it often goes unidentified because the symptoms are mild and resemble those associated with common flu.
State animal health officials have expressed concern that there are few regulations about the movement of breeding dogs, even those known to come from areas that have high brucellosis infection rates.
Because of the increasing concern about canine brucellosis, it is likely that state animal health departments will be increasing the regulations about the movement of possible infected animals.
There is no vaccine to prevent the disease. Dog owners are urged to have testing done before breeding to ensure that both animals are free of the disease.
If dogs test positive, there is no cure. The only known sure way to prevent the spread of the disease is the euthanasia of the infected animals.
In humans, infection with the brucellosis bacteria was common before eradication programs and the pasteurization of milk. The human disease, undulant fever, is characterized by fever, body aches, back pain, poor appetite and weight loss, headache, night sweats and weakness.
For canine brucellosis the human symptoms are about the same, except they often also include vomiting and diarrhea.