Okay, let me first say that the likelihood of a pet owner actually getting this disease is “very low,” according to Iowa State Veterinarian Dr. Jeff Kaisand. You pretty much have to handle your dog’s reproductive fluids — such as blood, tissue, and other fluids from the birthing process — to get infected.
Still, multiple cases of a zoonotic bacterial disease known as Canine Brucellosis was discovered at a dog breeding facility in Marion County, Iowa.
“We are in the process of notifying the individuals who have custody of the exposed dogs,” read a statement from Keely Coppess, a spokesperson for the state’s Agriculture Department. “Both the animals and the facilities are quarantined while the dogs undergo clinical testing.”
Pet owners who acquired a small-breed dog from the county were instructed to contact their veterinarian and direct human health concerns “to the Iowa Department of Public Health or your primary care physician.”
The statement also encouraged people to thoroughly wash their hands “after handling animals – even household pets.”
The disease can also be transmitted “by contaminated objects such as, bedding, equipment, clothing, or shoes,” according to a fact sheet from Iowa State University. “The bacteria can also be found in the milk, blood, and semen of infected dogs.”
In dogs, the disease causes reproductive issues, such as abortions, infertility, or stillbirths. Dogs with inflamed lymph nodes, acting abnormally, losing weight, or are lethargic may be infected.
The fact sheet also said that people who work closely with dogs, such as breeders and veterinarians, are the most likely to get the infection. In humans, the disease causes “flu-like signs (fever, night sweats, headaches, back pain),” according to the fact sheet. “Arthritis (joint pain) and re-occurring fevers may occur with long term infection. Rarely, cases of brucellosis can involve the nervous system, eyes, or heart.”
The disease can survive for months but can be eliminated with heat and disinfectants. Breeders should wear protective clothing, including gloves and masks, when assisting in the delivery of newborn puppies.
CNN reported that AHeinz57 Pet Rescue & Transport, Inc. has quarantined 32 dogs it had purchased at an auction while testing them for the disease.
"We have not received any results yet," the organization posted on Facebook. "Therefore, we have closed our shelter building for the next 30 days."
"This is just one more reason to ADOPT and not SHOP!” the organization added. “Please pray for our sweet babies that were finally getting the chance to have a happy life."
The Iowa Department of Public Health reported that Canine Brucellosis is “rarely reported in humans,” but still offered suggestions on how to avoid the disease.
“Persons with a weakened immune system due to disease or medication, young children, and pregnant women are likely at greater risk of developing more severe symptoms if they are exposed,” the Department said in a notice.