The dog disease that can spread to humans is Canine Brucellosis. It is highly contagious among canines and produces flu-like symptoms in humans that contract the illness. While infection among humans is rare, the most common way people become infected is through frequent close contact with infected dogs, often through contact with birthing materials and fluids, according to the Department of Public Health.
Those who have the highest risk of becoming infected are veterinarians and dog breeders. Other people at risk are those with weak immune systems, young children and pregnant women. The proper term for a sickness that can be passed from animal to human is zoonotic. According to The Iowa Department of Agricultural and Land Stewardship, Canine Brucellosis is spread through reproductive fluids.
This is not the only concern dog lovers should have when it comes to their pet. Canines lick those they love, but this may not be the safest form of affection due to the abundance of bacteria in a dog’s mouth. Before the beloved pet eats the rotting food found outside or the bacon that fell to the floor during breakfast, its mouth has over 700 different types of bacteria inside.
Web MD contributors Veterinarians Will Draper and Francoise Tyler, from The Village Vets practices in Atlanta, Ga., say there are two reasons to be concerned about dog licks to the face: One, if a canine licks someone who has a weak immune system (like those with cancer) or two, if the dog has a medical condition that could spread.
According to the Iowa Department for Public Health, Canine Brucellosis is an infection caused by the Brucella canis bacteria. It is highly contagious between dogs and can cause infertility, spontaneous abortions, and stillbirths in dogs. Other symptoms can include inflammation of lymph nodes, behavioral abnormalities, lethargy, and weight loss, according to the Center for Food Security and Public Health at Iowa State University.
Amy Heinz, with AHeinz57 Pet Rescue & Transport in Iowa, said 31 dogs are quarantined at her facility. The organization is asking the public for donations. The disease has affected the pet rescue’s organization ability to save more pets. Any canine that has already contracted the disease had to be put down because there is no known cure for the illness.
Any breed of canine and either gender can become infected. Many are unfamiliar with canine brucellosis, but its incidence is on the rise. The disease is predominantly seen in rural areas of the Southeast. One survey showed approximately six percent of dogs in that region are infected. Mainly stray and feral dogs and those from so-called “puppy mills” have been affected, but the spread of the disease to the rest of the canine industry, including show dogs and field trial dogs, has drawn widespread attention.
Health officials say the disease is most commonly reported in breeding facilities, where staffers are trained to recognize and test for it. That means veterinarians, dog breeders, and kennel workers are the most likely people to be exposed to canine brucellosis.
On average, signs of human infection appear three to four weeks after exposure, but can begin in one week or not for several months. Proper diagnosis is not necessary as antibiotic treatment generally resolves signs of illness. However, when handling infected dogs or materials, it is important to wear protective clothing such as latex or rubber gloves, a facemask, and eye goggles. Wash hands thoroughly after touching dogs and do not allow an infected canine to lick anywhere on the face.
By Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
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