A devastating canine illness has popped up in the Midwest. It has the potential to spread to humans.
In a statement, the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship confirmed multiple cases of the disease referred to as canine brucellosis in Marion County, Iowa.
The outbreak is believed to have comes from a professional breeding facility for small dogs.
The facility and any potentially exposed dogs have already been quarantined.
Keely Coppess, the communications director for the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship, confirmed to Healthline that both quarantine and investigation into the source of the outbreak are ongoing.
She said the full total quantity of cases at the moment is unknown, but a statement may likely be forthcoming in the weeks ahead to address the state of the outbreak.
What is canine brucellosis?
Canine brucellosis is an infection caused by the bacteria Brucella canis, which affects dogs’reproductive systems.
In female dogs, it results in infertility, spontaneous abortion, and stillbirth. In male dogs, it may cause low sperm counts or orchitis, a painful infection of the testicles.
The disease is spread through the bodily fluids of dogs, particularly reproductive fluids, such as for instance semen and vaginal discharge. As such, it may be spread to puppies during pregnancy and birthing.
“Spread may come from any bodily fluid from an infected pet. It might also include contaminated objects. If infectious material is on a cover and the blanket is given away with a puppy to a brand new family, we’ve a source of transmission,” said Greg Nelson, DVM, director of surgery and diagnostic imaging at Central Veterinary Associates in Valley Stream, New York.
Canine brucellosis can be a zoonotic disease. This means it can spread across species from dogs to humans, although this infection is highly unlikely.
In accordance with Coppess, transmission from a dog to an individual is uncommon generally pet ownership situations. That risk is increased during breeding and birthing because of the presence of fluids by which it’s commonly transmitted.
Therefore, breeders, veterinary staff, or those mixed up in birthing process have a heightened risk for infection.
Experts estimate you can find between 100 and 200 cases of brucellosis reported in humans in the U.S. every year. Common symptoms in humans tend to appear flu-like and include fever, sweating, headache, pain, and fatigue.
People who have weakened or compromised immune systems, including young children, women that are pregnant, or those with HIV, have a larger risk for developing more severe symptoms.
A written report from Iowa State University cautions that there’s the potential for women to give birth prematurely or miscarry if exposed.
In dogs, the disease may be difficult to diagnose. Once infected, a dog will more than likely carry the bacteria for life.
The disease is thought to be underreported in the medical literature because many dogs may be asymptomatic, and the presence of the bacteria in the bloodstream may be difficult to detect.