How to Deal with Brucellosis, the Canine Disease Now Threatening Humans
Brucellosis, a disease primarily associated with canines, has crossed the species barrier to infect humans in the United Kingdom, Newsweek reports. While this canine malady has been scarcely reported in humans until now, it is making its presence felt, raising concerns among experts and healthcare professionals.
Brucellosis: A Global Perspective
According to the Mayo Clinic, brucellosis is a bacterial infection that transcends species barriers, with animals serving as a reservoir for human infection. Brucellosis affects numerous animals worldwide, both wild and domestic. Cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, dogs, and even marine mammals like seals and porpoises can fall victim to this bacterial menace, reports the United States Department of Agriculture.
In most cases, humans contract brucellosis through the consumption of raw or unpasteurized dairy products, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nevertheless, the bacteria responsible for brucellosis can be transmitted through various routes, including the air and direct contact with infected animals.
The Unexpected Crossover: Brucella Canis in Humans
Brucellosis, often caused by the bacteria Brucella canis, was typically confined to dogs imported into the U.K. However, since 2020, this disease has spread to other dogs, culminating in two human infections as of July 2023. The source of these infections is rooted in local breeding practices that led to contact and mating between U.K.-native dogs and imported dogs or their offspring. Importantly, this canine-to-human transmission marks the first of its kind in the U.K.
According to the Center for Food Security and Public Health at Iowa State University, transmission primarily occurs during social, grooming, and sexual activities between dogs. This disease exhibits a prolonged incubation period, ranging from weeks to years.
The Spectrum of Symptoms
The onset of brucellosis symptoms varies, with signs appearing from days to months after infection. These symptoms mimic those of the flu and encompass fever, chills, weakness, muscle and joint pain, sweats, headache, loss of appetite, and fatigue, The Mayo Clinic reports. In exceedingly rare cases, complications such as endocarditis, arthritis, meningitis, and even Guillain Barré syndrome can occur. Fortunately, there have been no recorded human fatalities attributed to this disease.
Seeking Medical Attention
According to Food Safety News, diagnosing brucellosis can be challenging, especially in its early stages when it resembles other illnesses. A rapidly increasing fever, muscle aches, unusual weakness, or persistent fever should prompt individuals to seek medical attention, especially if they possess risk factors for the disease.
Certain occupations pose a higher risk of brucellosis transmission. Veterinarians, dairy farmers, ranchers, slaughterhouse workers, hunters, and microbiologists are among those at heightened risk due to their frequent contact with animals or infected animal tissues, The Mayo Clinic reports.
To mitigate the risk of brucellosis infection, certain precautions can be taken. Avoiding unpasteurized dairy products is paramount, as is ensuring that meat is thoroughly cooked the CDC reports. For those in high-risk occupations, wearing protective gear and adhering to safety protocols are essential.
While brucellosis remains relatively rare in the United States, it is more prevalent in other regions worldwide. Southern Europe, Eastern Europe, Mexico, South and Central America, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and the Middle East are hotspots for this disease.
By understanding the risks and taking appropriate precautions, we can minimize the threat this disease poses to our health and well-being. Click below and help make a difference!