Canine Brucellosis— A Threat to Canine Fertility!

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Dr Aeknath Virendra

Dr Sarita Gulavane

Dr Nilesh R. Dagli

Both male and female dogs must be healthy when it comes to reproductive aspect, free from any kind of transmissible disease or infection. Various genital infections have been reported which can lead to abortion and infertility in dogs. One of them is Brucellacanis causing Canine Brucellosis. -by Dr Aeknath Virendra, Dr Sarita Gulavane and Dr Nilesh R Dagli
Canine Brucellosis can be understood in simple words as a contagious bacterial infection of sexually intact adult dogs which can lead to infertility and late gestation abortion in dogs. If your dog is suffering from this infection there will be reproductive problems such as infertility and abortions, with other signs like difficulty getting pregnant, persistent vaginal discharge. Typically, a pregnant dog with Canine Brucellosis will abort at 45-55 days of gestation or will give birth to stillborn or weak puppies who may die a few days after birth.
How does infection spread?
Canine Brucellosis usually spreads via contact with infected body fluids, the most common route of infection is oral (i.e., from licking post partum discharges from the reproductive tract or contaminated urine or licking or chewing placental material or aborted fetuses). Dogs can also pick up an infection through sexual transmission, inhalation (sniffing contaminated urine or other discharges), or through other mucous membranes such as the eyes.
Problems with male & female dogs
In case of male dogs infected with Canine Brucellosis, they develop epididymitis, i.e. inflammation of epididymis (an infection in part of testicle) which ultimately leads to infertility. Initially there might be enlarged scrotum or enlarged testicle but in long standing cases/chronic cases the testicles will become atrophied or shrunken. On the other hand, in female dogs there will be infection of the uterus causing her to be infertile.
Diagnosis & tests
Tentative diagnosis of Canine Brucellosis can be done on the basis of clinical signs like abortions during the last trimester of pregnancy, still births and conception failure. The confirmatory diagnosis of infection is usually done by a blood test. The most common blood test is called rapid slide agglutination test, which can detect infections after three to four weeks. The disease can also be confirmed with an advanced test called an Agar Gel Immunodiffusion (AGID) test, which will identify infected animals between 12 weeks and 1 year post-infection. Other tests, such as immunofluorescence and ELISA can also be done.
Advanced diagnostic techniques
We can also go for advanced diagnostic techniques like PCR for more accurate and confirmed diagnosis. No treatment is completely effective at eliminating the bacteria, and any dog who has been infected with B. canis should be considered to be infected for life. Even if the acute infection can be controlled with antibiotics, the dog may shed bacteria intermittently for the rest of his life.
Beware of human transmission
Canine Brucellosis can be transmitted from animals to humans (zoonotic disease). However, pet parents are not considered to be at risk for infection because they are less likely to come in contact with blood, semen, or uterine discharges from an infected dog. Breeders and veterinarians who expose to semen or post partum secretions of infected animals are at an increased risk of developing an infection. Furthermore, people with compromised immune systems should avoid contact with a dog who is diagnosed with Canine Brucellosis.
Prepare for prevention
So, we have to do proper management and health care of our dog to avoid any kind of infection and also Brucella canis. A pre-breeding or regular testing must be done regarding Canine Brucellosis in both male and female dogs. In India cases of brucellosis in canines are reported very less. The reason could be less testing of the disease and other genital infections like Herpes virus in the country. Hence, prevention is better than cure.
(Dr Aeknath Virendra, Dr Sarita Gulavane and Dr Nilesh R Dagli are from the Department of Veterinary Gynaecology and Obstetrics, Mumbai Veterinary College, Parel, Mumbai)

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