Brucella canis is a zoonotic bacterial pathogen of dogs that is notoriously difficult to diagnose and treat. Humans can become infected with B canis when an infected pet dog is brought into their home. Our objectives were to describe the clinical presentation and outcomes in dogs treated for B canis and evaluate the performance of the quantitative serologic canine Brucella multiplex (CBM) assay for monitoring treatment response.
Diagnostic records from the Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University were retrospectively reviewed (2017–2022) for dogs that underwent repeat B canis serologic testing. Medical records were requested to compare the clinical presentations and outcomes for dogs that underwent treatment for B canis. Changes in CBM antibody values were compared between dogs with and without resolution of clinical signs.
While treatment protocols varied in the 30 treated dogs meeting the inclusion criteria, poly-antimicrobial therapy was prescribed in 97% (29/30) of cases. Gait abnormalities, spinal pain, and discospondylitis were the most common clinical abnormalities. A difference (P value = .0075) in the percent decrease in CBM assay PO1 antibody values was found in dogs with resolved clinical signs.
Young dogs presenting with recurring lameness or back pain should be screened for B canis infection. A 40% decline in CBM assay values 2 to 6 months posttreatment can be supportive of response to treatment. Further prospective studies are needed to determine the ideal B canis treatment regimen and the magnitude of public health risks associated with maintaining neutered B canis-infected animals as pets.
Brucellosis is a highly infectious zoonotic disease of global significance due to its adverse impact on public health, economics, and trade. Despite being one of the most prevalent zoonoses worldwide, attention given to global brucellosis control and prevention has been inadequate. Brucella species of greatest one-health relevance in the US include those infecting dogs (Brucella canis), swine (Brucella suis), and cattle and domestic bison (Brucella abortus). Although not endemic in the US, Brucella melitensis warrants awareness as it poses a risk to international travelers. While brucellosis has been eradicated from domestic livestock in the US, its detection in US companion animals (B canis) and US wildlife reservoirs (B suis and B abortus) and enzootic presence internationally pose a threat to human and animal health, warranting its spotlight on the one-health stage. The challenges of B canis diagnosis in humans and dogs is addressed in more detail in the companion Currents in One Health by Guarino et al, AJVR, April 2023. Human consumption of unpasteurized dairy products and occupational exposure of laboratory diagnosticians, veterinarians, and animal care providers are responsible for human exposures reported to the US CDC. Diagnosis and treatment of brucellosis is challenging due to the limitations of diagnostic assays and the tendency of Brucella spp to produce nonspecific, insidious clinical signs and evade antimicrobial therapy, making prevention essential. This review will focus on zoonotic considerations for Brucella spp found within the US along with their epidemiology, pathophysiology, clinical presentation, treatment, and control strategies.