Brucellosis is a bacterial infection that is important in breeding animals, and may be transmitted to humans in rare cases. Infected dogs pass the bacteria to their offspring and other dogs through blood, milk, fetal tissues, and less likely urine and nasal secretions.
Brucella causes abortions in dogs, enlarged lymph nodes, and in long standing infections may cause inflammation of the spine, eyes, joints and kidneys.
The bacteria that cause Brucellosis may persist in the environment for months, and infected dogs may be infectious for 4-6 weeks. Testing of all breeding animals is essential to ensure safety and health of a breeding kennel.
Positive dogs must be removed from the breeding program, and many are euthanized, as permanent quarantine from other breeding animals is needed. Due to the possibility of transmission to humans, these dogs are usually not sold as pets although they may not be exhibiting signs of the disease.
Treatment consists of antibiotic therapy, although combination therapy is needed due to the fact the organism is more difficult to target as it lives inside the cell. In the environment, the organism is killed by household disinfectants like bleach. Human infections usually cause non-specific signs like lethargy, fever, and enlarged liver depending on the strain.