Written by Helen McKee (MRCVS), PDWRA Vet Advisor:

Parting from the normal subject of diseases in pugs, I am highlighting a disease which is being brought in to the UK in imported dogs.

The reason for concern about this disease is that it can cause significant illness in humans (known as a zoonotic disease) especially in people who are immune-suppressed.

A recent letter from the Chief Veterinary Officer with regard Brucella canis in imported dogs in the UK highlighted concerns regarding the potential disease risks of importing dogs.

The British Veterinary Association has advised that charities or organisations importing dogs from Brucella canis endemic countries to ensure Brucella canis negative pre-export testing for the dog(s) in the country of origin before importing into the UK.

Currently, there is no requirement to screen imported dogs for Brucella canis either before or after travel.

Brucella canis (B.canis) is a highly contagious bacterial infection. Sadly, despite many studies, there is no guaranteed cure for the B. canis in dogs as antibiotics cannot effectively penetrate the cell to eradicate the bacteria.

  1. B. canis is endemic across Southern and Eastern Europe.  We have seen a marked increase in the number of dogs imported from countries like Romania. This has meant more infected dogs have come into the UK.
  2. In dogs, B. canis might not cause any signs of ill health and, although the dog may appear normal, it can quietly cause fertility issues and abortion in pregnant bitches.

These carrier dogs can spread the infection in discharge during birth, aborted material, during mating or in semen, blood, urine and saliva.

How does it affect humans?

Brucellosis can cause abortion or infertility in humans so pregnant women or those trying to conceive are at increased risk.

Symptoms are often mild and non-specific. The most common signs and symptoms of human infection include a continued, intermittent, or irregular fever sometimes accompanied by loss of appetite, weight loss, sweating, headaches, fatigue, back and/or joint pain.

If not treated the disease may become chronic and more serious symptoms can arise. Immuno-compromised people are most at risk, as well as children and pregnant women.

Many veterinary practices now have a specific protocol when dealing with dogs imported from endemic countries, which can include not seeing the dog unless it has had a negative blood test.

In a recent communication from the Chief Veterinary Officer to veterinary surgeons, she advised that euthanasia must be considered with dogs found to be positive for canine brucellosis.

I wanted to bring this to your attention because so many of us want to help a rescue animal, including those from abroad, so I thought important to stress the risk of this disease especially from dogs from Eastern Europe such as Romania.

Helen McKee (MRCVS)
PDWRA Vet Advisor.


For other interesting health articles related specifically to our pugs, please go to:
Pug Health & Wellbeing | The Pug Dog Welfare & Rescue Association (pugwelfare-rescue.org.uk)

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