In recent days, there have been increasing reports that a number of dogs in Israel have discovered a bacterium called Brucella canis, which can cause them fatigue, lameness, eye infections, various infections, decreased fertility, miscarriages, testicular problems and failed pregnancies.
In order for you to know how to deal with the bacterium and the necessary need for proper diagnosis of the dog by a veterinarian, Dr. Shelly Einav, a public health expert and member of the Association of Veterinary Doctors for Domestic Animals in Israel, elaborated on the bacterium, the ways it is infected – and explained even if it is really dangerous.
What is the bacterium?
It is a zoonotic bacterium (one that is transmitted from animals to humans) that is very specific to animals, and in this case – to dogs. It was first discovered in 1966 in the United States, and later worldwide. In 2019, the bacterium was also discovered in dogs imported to Israel illegally and unsupervised (until then, Israel was considered free of the bacterium).
Passes easily. Dog, photo: iStock
Which dogs are at risk?
The bacteria was initially discovered in puppies, mainly Shih Tzu, Shiba Inu, Cavalier King Charles and French Bulldogs, some of which, according to reports by the Veterinary Services of the Ministry of Agriculture, came from a habitat in Alon HaGalil. However, it is not inconceivable that there are other infected breeds and even mixed puppies in Israel, as a result of unsupervised breeding.
How do you get infected?
The bacterium can be transmitted to humans through direct contact with secretions of the genitourinary system of infected dogs, contact with mucous membranes (nose, mouth, eyes) or contact with open wounds, and cause morbidity.
Among dogs, the bacterium is transmitted between them mainly through sexual contact or aerosol form (fluid particles in the air) in crowded places such as kennels and habitats. The survival of the bacteria in the environment is relatively low, so contact with objects such as toys and sleeping deposits should not be contagious, but it is still recommended to maintain hygiene and complete separation in these as well.
It's cute, but can be very contagious. A dog licks a young woman, Photo: Thinkstock Photos
Is it dangerous?
It is important to emphasize: mortality rates among dogs with Brucella canis are low, but keep in mind that this is a chronic disease and the dog may be a carrier of the bacterium for many years, perhaps even a lifetime, and excrete it into the environment at different times. Rinsing with soap and water and using an alcohol or chlorine-based disinfectant will easily destroy the bacteria, indicating the importance of maintaining the health of animals and us humans.
So what do we do?
Spaying / neutering dogs, certainly dogs infected with the bacterium, will reduce the chances of spreading the disease among the population. If you have purchased/adopted a puppy within the past year, it is recommended to contact your veterinarian and consult him regarding a serological test for the presence of antibodies to the bacterium.
Hygiene should be maintained (washing hands thoroughly with water, with soap or disinfectant) after any contact with the dog in general and before eating in particular, and especially until the results of laboratory tests are received.
Don't be afraid to reach out to him. A veterinarian treats a dog (illustration), Photo: Getty Images
In addition, contact with an infected dog should be avoided as much as possible, and certainly contact with its genitourinary secretions. If your dog is sick – contact your doctor/veterinarian immediately.
Brucella canis is a disease that must be reported in Israel, and therefore it is the obligation of the treating veterinarian to report every sick dog to the veterinary services of the Ministry of Agriculture.
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