Brucella Canis

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Guidance for Personnel Working with Rabbits, Cats, and Dogs at Texas A&M University-Kingsville

What is Brucella canis?

Brucella canis is the bacterium that causes Canine brucellosis, one of several types of brucellosis, but the one that is the least harmful to humans. The disease can result in reproductive failure of sexually mature dogs.

How is Brucella canis spread?

Human infection with Brucella canis occurs by direct contact with secretions (eg vaginal fluids, urine, seminal fluids) from infected animals. Transmission can also occur with exposure to infectious aerosols. Brucella is the most commonly reported laboratory-associated bacterial infection.

Who is at risk for infection?

The overall risk of human infection is low, but veterinarians and researchers who work with dogs that may be infected should take precautions. Additionally, veterinarians and researchers who work with or have exposure to the Brucella canis vaccine can develop an infection with Brucella.

Is Brucella canis infection serious?

Human infections with Brucella canis are relatively mild. Clinically, infected dogs are rarely seriously ill. Obvious clinical signs usually involve reproductive disorders in sexually mature animals. Puppies are usually aborted or die within the first few hours or days after birth.

How can I protect myself?

Pet dogs should be neutered before treatment to decrease the risk of infecting humans. Although aerosol transmission is likely, survival of the Brucella organism in the environment is probably short-lived. Proper disinfection with quaternary ammonium compounds or iodophors should be implemented to prevent the spread of infection. Infected animals should be handled with gloves and never bred, not even by artificial insemination. Dogs that are to be kept as pets should be neutered and not allowed in the kennel environment. Gloves, shoe covers and long sleeved apparel should be worn at all times when working with dogs. Wash hands after handling animals.

What are the signs of Brucella canis infection?

Human infections with Brucella canis are relatively mild, consisting of fever, malaise, enlarged lymph nodes, and weight loss. Some infections may be asymptomatic.

What do I do if an exposure or injury occurs?

Exposure to aerosols, bites or scratches involving animals or injuries from objects contaminated with body fluids from animals require immediate first aid and medical attention. Notify your supervisor! Then, contact the University Police Department at 593-2611 or dial 911.

This page was last updated on: October 12, 2015