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Raising Awareness: Brucellosis, and managing the importation of this serious disease into the UK.

You may have seen social media posts in 2020 about some pups coming to the UK with this disease. Whilst these were not Paws2Rescue pups, it did lead us to immediately start researching, and we have continued since, talking with the APHA and other authorities about this disease.

Paws2Rescue carry out a Brucellois B.canis test on every pup and dog prior to them leaving Romania, and this is recorded in the health book of the pup or dog. 

In context:

The last Brucella detection in Great Britain was 2004. There are records of at least 18 dogs arrived in the UK from Romania between August and November 2020. As of February 2021, more than 40 cases have been reported to APHA in the UK. The vast majority of these came from Romania.

We know that the import of dogs from Romania increased by at least 51% on the prior year, and we know that most rescues and groups do not test for this disease, with some who are aware of this information continuing to “ignore” the issue. 

Whilst the disease does remain extremely rare, it is on the increase in Romania. We are working to assist APHA with more detailed information of this disease in this source country. There is a potential source for dogs becoming infected from eating uncooked meat from infected pigs or cows.   


Back in 2019, a study into this disease found that brucellosis (B. canis) DNA was present in 3.7% of all samples and concluded that there is a presence of this disease across Eastern Europe. However, there is no data on the true occurrence of B. canis infection in dogs in numbers or percentages of populations.

What is canine brucellosis?

Canine Brucellosis is a disease found in dogs and caused by the bacterium, Brucella canis. 

Infected dogs can also spread the disease to people. It is a Notifiable Disease.

Stray dogs that have not been spayed or neutered, and unowned or free roaming dogs are at higher risk of having brucellosis. Dog-to-dog spread of brucellosis occurs most often through breeding and by contact with vaginal discharges, semen, birthing fluids, and urine. Contact with an infected dog’s blood, milk, saliva, and faeces are less common sources of infection.

What are the symptoms?

Both sexes may have swollen lymph glands, eye disease, and infections of the spine, male dogs may have swollen testicles. However, most infected dogs appear normal and show no symptoms except for infertility. Female dogs can deliver healthy-appearing, but infected puppies.


A blood sample is tested for the antibodies that fight B. canis. The tests are:

Screening tests: Rapid Slide Agglutination Test (RSAT) 

Confirmatory tests: PCR

Inspect – our vets inspect the dogs and pups in Romania.

Test – Paws2Rescue dogs and pups are all tested in Romania.

Test results – screening tests are very sensitive. A negative result means that the dog is truly not infected, but a positive may be a false positive and then we carry out a confirmatory test which is sent from Romania to a laboratory in Germany.

Positive – if the PCR test on a Paws2Rescue pup or dog is positive they will not leave Romania. 

Isolate – Treating the disease with long term antibiotics can take up to five years, but a dog infected with brucellosis should be isolated from all dogs and it is infected for life. In the UK a dog or pup with brucellosis cannot go onto public land and must be kept away from other dogs, children and vulnerable humans – essentially house arrest for the life of the dog or may be euthanized. 

If you are intending to adopt a pup or dog from another rescue or group, please insist that your pup or dog is tested for B. canis in Romania and evidenced in the health book. If the rescue or group you are intending to adopt a pup or dog from says that they do not test and or will not test your dog, then we suggest that you consider your adoption very carefully. 

It is essential that all rescues, charities and groups bringing dogs into the UK are testing for this disease. 

Please share this post and help us to raise awareness: whilst it remains rare, it is and extremely worrying disease.

Fact Sources:


Public Health England

Human Animal Infections and Risk Surveillance (HAIRS)

Frontiers in Veterinary Science

Minnesota Department of Health