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Brucella Canis: An Emerging Disease in the UK Affecting Dogs and Humans

Since the summer of 2020, the United Kingdom has witnessed a concerning surge in cases of Brucella canis infection among dogs, originating primarily from Eastern Europe. This incurable disease, which has been spreading among canines, has now made the alarming leap to infect humans, with three British citizens falling victim to its debilitating effects. This article explores the nature of Brucella canis, its transmission, symptoms, and preventive measures.

Brucella Canis: Understanding the Disease

Brucella canis, a bacterium causing canine brucellosis, is the culprit behind this growing health concern. This highly contagious pathogen primarily targets dogs but can transmit to humans through direct contact with infected dogs.

Symptoms in Humans

Symptoms of Brucella canis infection in humans can be challenging to diagnose, as they often present as mild and nonspecific. These symptoms may include:

  1. Flu-like Symptoms: Fever, loss of appetite, night sweats, headache, fatigue, and joint or back pain are common initial indicators.

  2. Long-lasting Effects: Some individuals may experience persistent symptoms such as recurrent fever and fatigue.
  3. Rare Complications: In rare cases, Brucella canis infection can affect the nervous system, eyes, or heart, leading to more severe health issues.

Transmission to Humans

The transmission of Brucella canis to humans occurs through various routes:

  1. Direct Contact: Infection can happen when individuals come into direct contact with bodily fluids (e.g., urine, feces, vomit, saliva, blood, and reproductive fluids) from infected dogs.

  2. Aerosol Exposure: Inhalation of airborne particles containing the bacterium can also lead to infection.
  3. Ingestion: Consuming contaminated materials or food can introduce the bacteria into the human body.
  4. Mucous Membrane and Skin Contact: Contamination of mucous membranes or open skin wounds presents a risk for infection.

Prevention and Safety Measures

Preventing Brucella canis infection involves careful handling and protective measures:

  1. No Available Vaccine: Unfortunately, there is no vaccine against this infection, emphasizing the importance of prevention.

  2. Avoid Direct Contact: Individuals should avoid direct contact with bodily fluids of infected dogs, especially when handling a dog’s internal organs.
  3. Protective Gear: When dealing with potentially infected dogs, wearing rubber gloves and other protective gear is essential to minimize the risk of transmission.

Government Response and Dog Management

In the case of dogs, Brucella canis is untreatable, and government guidelines recommend euthanasia as the necessary course of action. Infected dogs are considered carriers for life, even after antimicrobial treatment, posing a risk to other canines and humans.

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