Outbreak of rare bacterial disease in dogs could also be passed on to humans

While no cases of human brucellosis infection have been identified yet, Iowa has been put on alert.

An outbreak of a rare infection transmitted from dogs to people has been detected in a dog breeding facility in Iowa, United States. The Canine brucellosis infection causes defects in the reproductive systems of both male and female dogs and could lead them to become infertile.

"We are in the process of notifying the individuals who have custody of the exposed dogs. Both the animals and the facilities are quarantined while the dogs undergo clinical testing," the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the department investigating the outbreak, said in a press release.

Canine brucellosis is a bacterial disease that is transmitted from dogs to other animals. It can also be transferred to human beings if people come in contact with animal tissue, blood, urine, vaginal excretions, aborted fetuses, or placentas from infected dogs. Other ways that it can spread to people include the consumption of raw milk and dairy products that come from animals infected with brucellosis.

representational image. Credit: Flickr

Representational image. Image: Flickr

Even breathing in the bacteria that causes the brucellosis infection could be risky to humans. In people, Canine brucellosis manifests as fever, headache, chills, sweats, weakness, depression and pain in joints, muscle and the back. While the infection can technically be transmitted to people through infected fluids, human cases of brucellosis are quite rare, according to a report by the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

People working in laboratories with the bacteria, in slaughterhouses or meat-packing are some of the most vulnerable to the infection, according to the Centre for Disease Control. Veterinarians, wildlife officers and farm workers are also at higher risk.

Interestingly, the threat to dog owners is considered to be low. This, since pet owners are far less likely to come in contact with saliva, blood and body fluids from an infected dog.

As for the dogs in Iowa's dog shelters, each of them — infected or not — have been placed in quarantine till they pose a risk to others or themselves.

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