Brucellosis is caused by the bacterium Brucella canis. The disease spreads from one dog to another during breeding or oral contact with vaginal discharges, aborted fetuses and placentas, semen, or urine. It occurs most frequently in breeding kennels, although family pets may become infected also.
Pregnant females with brucellosis abort their puppies, while nonpregnant bitches may fail to conceive when bred. Males develop swelling of the testicles and usually become sterile. Many dogs appear to be in excellent health and show no signs of infection but are capable of spreading the disease.
Diagnosis is by blood culture and/or blood testing. Testing of more than one blood sample is usually required.
Public Health Significance
Brucellosis can affect people, although the chance of infection appears to be remote. Have your physician contact your veterinarian.
Important Points in Treatment
1. Brucella germs are very difficult to eliminate, and the disease frequently recurs despite antibiotic therapy. Infected dogs are considered to be life-long carriers of the disease.
2. Infected dogs should not be used for breeding, and they should be neutered before starting treatment. Infected dogs should not be kept in the breeding kennel population.