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Brucellosis
(Canine Sexually Transmitted Disease)

Brucellosis is a major cause of canine infertility and may be the cause of your breeding woes. Brucellosis is primarily a sexually transmitted disease, but can be transmitted by contact with infected bodily fluids and in some cases can be transmitted airborne. The disease can be passed from dogs to humans but not person to person. 

One of the common misconceptions that I found amongst Bulldog breeders is that Brucellosis is a disease that was a menace to breeders of the past and that since most bulldogs are bred by Artificial Insemination there is no cause for alarm. Just because the act of copulation does not physically occur, does not mean that infected semen from the stud cannot infect your bitch.  Also transmission can occur from fluids of an infected bitch during the AI process. Then the unsuspecting breeder can transmit the disease to the rest of his kennel. Bulldogs would seem to be at risk due to their low slung anatomy and a show site can be especially dangerous.

What is Brucellosis?
Brucellosis is a bacterial infection caused by Brucella Canis. The disease enters through the mucus membranes and spreads to the lymph nodes and the spleen. It also spreads to the uterus, the placenta and the prostate gland.  The disease will not kill your dogs; it can however render them genetically dead due to the reduced fertility or sterility. 

What are the symptoms of Brucellosis?
Bitches: Litters aborted - usually at 45-55 days of gestation. Pups may be stillborn or die immediately at birth. Pups that are lost during the embryonic stage are reabsorbed and give the appearance that the bitch did not take.  Decreased fertility may be the case rather than abortion. Infected bitches that do whelp a live litter can produce carriers of the disease. 
Dogs:  Infertility based on abnormal sperm and poor sperm motility. There can be inflammation of the prostate gland as well as swelling of the testicles. In some cases there can be atrophy (shrinking) of the testicles after the initial swelling occurs.  Lesions can also occur due to the dog licking the painful areas. 

Other symptoms that may manifest themselves and are not gender related are:
Arthritis, disc disease (paralysis sometimes occurs), fever, hind limb weakness, lethargy, decreased tolerances to exercise. Dry dull coats, swelling of the lymph nodes, eye inflammation. Of course these can be symptomatic of other diseases, so always consult your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis. This can be a tough disease to diagnose and you may have to request the test for Brucellosis. 

What tests are involved to detect Brucellosis?
Testing is done through a blood sample. If your veterinarian uses an in-house test kit and obtains a positive reading, the test should be ran again to verify the results. There can be a high incident of false positives with the in-house kits. It is best to have the tests sent out to a competent laboratory for evaluation. The test is approximately $35.00-50.00.

Treatment of Brucellosis:
The disease can be very resistant to treatment. Treatment is usually a combination of minocycline and streptomycin and is thought to be the most effective albeit the most expensive. Tetracycline can be substituted for the minocycline to reduce the cost, but will lower the effectiveness of the treatment. All infected animals should be considered carriers for life. 

Humans and Brucellosis:
Humans can contact this disease and symptoms are usually flu like. The most prevalent form of transmission to humans is by handling aborted pups. For this reason, if you should ever have a bitch that has stillborn pups or aborts, all membranes, placentas, etc. should be handled with gloves. Inhaling of airborne particles from feces, urine, tissues (including stillborn and aborted fetuses) of infected dogs can also result in transmission. 

Better safe than sorry:
With all the blood, sweat and tears that seems to accompany breeding bulldogs. It seems that this relatively inexpensive test could benefit breeders. If you bring one infected dog into your breeding program you could possibly wipe out years of hard work in establishing your line. 

Article Contributed by Bulldog Club of Texas Newsletter (Leigh Meeks)

 

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