Imported Canine Brucellosis

Friday, December 13, 2019

Bull Terrier(USA) On November 11, 2019 the Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine received diagnostic samples from an intact breeding female Miniature Bull Terrier that had aborted a litter of puppies on 11/3/19. This female dog was part of a small group of breeding dogs, into which two dogs were introduced by importation from the country of Estonia. One was a breeding male. This male bred at least two female dogs in the group, both of whom have tested positive on one or more different Brucella canis assays. In addition, some antibiotic treatments were administered and some negative tests were obtained before the latest breeding ended in abortion. Following use for breeding, the male dog subsequently developed clinical discospondylitis and was euthanized due to uncontrolled pain.

Post-abortion samples of inoculated blood culture media and a vaginal swab were cultured for Brucella canis. Brucella canis was isolated from the vaginal swab. The Brucella canis AGID II test (uses cytoplasmic antigen) performed on serum was suspect and the Brucella canis slide agglutination test was positive. The bacterial isolate was forwarded to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory for whole genome sequencing (WGS) and inclusion in their database of tested US isolates of Brucella canis. They confirmed the identity as Brucella canis and reported that phylogenetic analyses of the sequences indicates the isolate is not closely related to any other isolates in their US database at this time. 

The results in this case are consistent with the importation of at least one dog infected with Brucella canis. Additionally, the owner reported to the attending veterinarian that the seller of the dogs in Estonia assured her that Brucella canis was not a serious issue with dogs, and that if you put them on antibiotics, they were cured.

The state veterinarian is conducting tracebacks of all potential domestic exposures or dog movements associated with this case. The owner has been advised of the zoonotic potential of this disease and has been advised to seek the advice of her physician if she has any concerns for her own health. The disposition of the remaining dogs is unknown at this time.

We continue to be very concerned with importations of canine pathogens to North America due to improper biosecurity procedures by canine rescue groups or other importers. We have contributed to several reports of separate introductions of canine influenza virus from Asia to North America and more recently have reported the importation of an Asian strain of canine distemper virus. This Brucella canis case provides more evidence that both human and North American canine health is being put at risk by the movement of infected dogs, by individuals who either have no awareness or no regard for the importation of foreign animal diseases, and by an industry whose animal importation movement is largely unregulated.