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Canine brucellosis
Three dogs

Canine Brucellosis Testing Information

Canine brucellosis testing is conducted daily at ADDL. Three tests are available: Culture, Indirect Fluorescence Antibody (IFA) test, and Tube Agglutination Test (TAT). 

Use our Submission Form when sending samples to the Lab. Contact the lab at 614-728-6220 if you have any questions.  


***Use an ice pack as a coolant for all Canine Brucellosis test specimens*** 

Culture

  • Performed by Bacteriology Section
  • Cost: $20 per tissue
  • Days to complete: 7-10 days
  • Specimen: Affected tissues such as lymph nodes, spleen, placenta, fluids, etc. should be submitted for culture
  • Aerobic transport media (i.e.: Amies or Stuart's) should be used for swabs
  • Airtight, sterile containers for tissues should be used
  • Ship the samples with ice packs in an insulated container using overnight express courier
  • Test days: Monday-Friday

 IFA

  • Performed by Virology Section
  • Cost for individual samples: $11.50
  • Cost for pooled samples: $16.50
    • Please do not pool samples before shipping. All pooling must be performed at the laboratory.
    • Unless otherwise requested, samples are automatically pooled.
  • Days to complete: up to 3 days
  • Specimen: serum
  • Test days: Monday-Friday

 TAT

  • Performed by Serology Section
  • Cost: $17.00
  • Days to complete: up to 9 days
  • Specimen: serum
  • Test days: Monday-Wednesday

What is Canine Brucellosis?

Canine brucellosis is a contagious infection caused by the bacterium, Brucella canis (B.canis). This bacterial infection is highly contagious between dogs. Infected dogs usually develop an infection of the reproductive system, or a venereal infection.

Prepared by 2018 ODAU intern Catherine Ephlin.

References: Canine Brucellosis, VCA Animal Hospital; Ohio Revised Code 901:1-5-(12 & 13)

Primary Signs and Symptoms

Brucellosis in dogs typically causes reproductive problems such as infertility and abortions, with few other signs of clinical illness. The disease is most common in sexually intact adult dogs.

Male dogs infected with brucellosis develop epididymitis, an infection of the epididymis. When sperm are produced in the testicles, they are immature; the epididymis is a coiled segment of the spermatic ducts where the sperm mature and are stored before ejaculation. A dog with a newly acquired infection will often have an enlarged scrotum or an enlarged testicle and may have scrotal dermatitis. The quality of the dog's sperm will be poor. In chronic or long-standing cases, the testicles will atrophy or become shrunken.

Female dogs infected with brucellosis develop an infection of the uterus; she may be infertile or have difficulty getting pregnant, or may abort in the late stages of pregnancy. She often has a persistent vaginal discharge. Typically, a pregnant dog with brucellosis will abort at 45-55 days of gestation, or will give birth to stillborn or weak puppies.

During the early stages of brucellosis, enlarged lymph nodes are common. Occasionally, B.canis will infect the intervertebral discs, the eyes, the kidneys, or the brain. If the bacteria infect these other tissues, the symptoms will be related to the bodily system that is infected.

Transmission

Large numbers of Brucella canis bacteria are shed in the genital secretions (semen or vaginal discharges) of an infected dog. Smaller amounts of bacteria may also be shed in the dog's urine or saliva. After a female dog aborts a pregnancy because of brucellosis, she will continue to discharge fluids infected with the bacteria for 4-6 weeks after the abortion.

Dogs are exposed to the disease via contact with infected bodily fluids. Although the most common route of infection is oral (i.e. from licking contaminated urine or discharges from the reproductive tract, 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.

Diagnosis

The Ohio Administrative Code mandates that acceptable tests for detection of B. canis include culture, IFA, and/or TAT. Read more about our administrative code rules.

The infection is usually diagnosed by a blood test. The Ohio ADDL uses an indirect fluorescent antibody (IFA) test that tests sera at 1/50 dilution; up to five samples can be pooled for IFA testing ($16.50/pool). This test is used for screening of breeding dogs, and negative tests are reliable unless the dog has been recently exposed to the disease. False-positive tests are confirmed with an advanced test called tube agglutination test (TAT). A definitive diagnosis can be made if B. canis is cultured from an animal. The ADDL offers B. canis culture for $20.00 per submitted tissue. Refer to our Tests and Fees for the most up-to-date B. canis test offerings, and use our Submission Form when sending samples to the lab for testing.

Treatment

Although antibiotics can be used to help control the infection, no treatment is completely effective at eliminating the bacteria, and any dog that has been infected with B.canis should be considered to be infected for life. Even if the acute infection is able to be controlled with antibiotics, the dog may shed bacteria intermittently for the rest of its life. 

Prevention and Control

It is more prevalent in some areas of the United States, such as the southern USA, and in other parts of the world. Since the disease is a major threat to the breeding capability of dogs, all dogs used for breeding purposes should be tested regularly (e.g. every 3-6 months, depending on exposure to other dogs), and new dogs should never be introduced into a kennel situation until they have been quarantined for 8-12 weeks and then tested for the disease. Most experts recommend performing 2 blood tests 60 days apart, near the end of the quarantine period. Details regarding the regulations for Ohio kennels can be found in the Ohio Department of Agriculture Administrative Rules.

In most states, including Ohio, brucellosis is a reportable disease, meaning that the disease is considered to be of great public health importance. Veterinarians are required to report all positive cases to the State Veterinarian.