Industry News

BVA calls for extra vigilance and stricter pet import measures after first confirmed dog-to-human case of Brucella canis in the UK

BVA has issued advice for vet teams and members of the public following confirmation of spread of infection from an imported rescue dog to the foster carer and her pets.

We have issued a strong reminder to members of the public about the serious disease risks from importing dogs from abroad and are urging all prospective dog owners to protect the health of dogs and humans in the UK by rehoming dogs from within the country instead. BVA is also asking vet teams to take extra precautions and for the Government to tighten pet import rules.

The advice follows  news earlier this month  about a positive  Brucella canis  test in a rescue dog imported from Belarus in March this year. The woman fostering the dog was hospitalised after coming into close contact with it, in the UK’s first confirmed dog-to-human transmission of this zoonotic disease. The foster animal and four pet dogs who were exposed to the disease, three of whom also tested positive, all had to be euthanised.

Data released by the Government  shows a steep rise in confirmed  Brucella canis  cases since the start of 2020, rising from just three before that year to 107 till July this year. The dogs were all either imported, had returned from holiday overseas, or been bred with an imported dog.

BVA President Justine Shotton said:

“This recent case of  Brucella canis  in a foster dog is extremely tragic and highlights why  vets have long raised concerns  over the real and serious risks of importing ‘Trojan’ rescue dogs with unknown health histories into the UK.

“We know there is an added public health risk too, including for veterinary teams who treat and handle these animals, from contact with an infected dog’s contaminated body tissues and fluids.

“BVA continues to call on the Government to take urgent action to introduce stricter pet import measures, including mandatory pre-import testing, so we can minimise the spread of  Brucella canis  and other emerging diseases. We are also calling for the strengthening of enforcement provisions and checks on dogs brought into the country through the commercial route.”

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Source: British Veterinary Association (BVA)

Image: BVA