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Incurable disease that can jump from dogs to humans spreading in Britain for first time

Incurable disease that can jump from dogs to humans spreading in Britain for first time

The disease is raising some concern among experts in the UK

A disease that can leap from dog to human is being spread among Britain's pooch population for the first time.

Brucella canis, which is incurable and causes infertility among dogs, had previously only been found in imported animals.

But now a government official has told The Telegraph that the disease is gaining traction in the UK.

The disease can be passed from dogs to humans.

Since it still has low numbers, it is not yet considered an endemic.

It is believed that the dogs who currently have the disease either mated with an imported dog, had contact with a pregnant imported dog or are the offspring of an import.

Dr Christine Middlemiss, chief veterinary officer at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affair, said: "We have had spread of a case in the UK to another dog in the UK. It is through breeding in kennels.

"There is not a lot – there is very little. But that is new for us."

A report published on Monday by the Human Animal Infection and Risk Surveillance Group found that the risk to the public was low.

However, there is still growing concern as two people have tested positive for the condition this year.

It is understood that the government is discussing ways in which to screen for the disease at the border in order to prevent more infected animals from entering Britain.

In some parts of the world like Bulgaria, Brucella canis is endemic.

"There is no statutory requirements on import testing at the moment. We are gathering the evidence, various risk assessments are contributing to that evidence and we will consider it," Dr Middlemiss said.

"I do advise at the moment that voluntary testing, pre-import testing, is a really sensible thing to do. If you’re bringing dogs in to breed then it would absolutely make sense to pre-import screen those dogs."

There is currently no cure for Brucella canis.

Euthanasia remains the only option for preventing further transmission, although owners will be the ones to make that decision for their pets.

Antibiotics have not yet proven successful in stopping the spread.

Dr Middlemiss said: "It is very difficult to set blanket black and white advice.

"For some people [euthanasia] might not be the right advice and they’ve got to take into account their personal circumstances.

"For me, I don’t have a dog at the moment, but the last dog I had was a UK dog, not in contact with others, if it was in contact it was under controlled conditions. I don’t have children. I’m not breeding dogs. There is a low risk of spread.

"But if you were a breeder of dogs and you end up having [a case] and you have multiple kennels, maybe lots of people have to look after them, then I think their circumstances are different."

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Featured Image Credit: Getty Stock images/Wikipedia commons

Topics: Animals, Dogs, UK News, Health