Multiple cases of zoonotic dog disease confirmed in Iowa

Iowa’s top veterinary official has confirmed that multiple cases of a zoonotic canine disease have surfaced in the Hawkeye State.

State Veterinarian Jeff Kaisand, DVM, has confirmed that cases of Canine Brucellosis were discovered at a commercial dog-breeding facility in Marion County, Iowa.

According to an official news release from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, authorities “are in the process of notifying the individuals who have custody of the exposed dogs. Both the animals and the facilities are quarantined while the dogs undergo clinical testing.”

The department is also warning state residents that Canine Brucellosis is a zoonotic disease that can be passed to humans.

Brucella canis is 1 of 12 recognized species of the genus Brucella and the only one that’s dog specific. Other species, such as Brucella melitensis, Brucella abortus, and Brucella suis, are well-known examples of zoonotic infections that can jump to humans, causing undulant fever and flu-like symptoms. 100 to 200 cases of Brucellosis are reported in humans each year in the United States, but most of those are transmitted through livestock.

B. canis is transmitted among dogs primarily through ingestion, inhalation, or contact with aborted canine fetuses or placenta, vaginal secretions, or semen. Reproductive problems are the primary way Brucellosis manifests in dogs, and B. canis is most common in kennels and breeding facilities such as the one in Marion County.

Scientists aren’t certain exactly how the bacteria is spread to humans but say it’s most likely the result of direct contact with dogs’ reproductive organs or urine. A 2018 study found that pregnant women are at particular risk of infection.

While Iowa state officials acknowledge that the threat to pet owners is low, it also advises that “dog breeders, veterinary staff, and anyone who comes in contact with blood, tissues, and fluids during the birthing process may be at higher risk and should consult their primary physician.”

Perhaps fittingly, an Iowa pet rescue broke the story.

AHeinz57 Pet Rescue and Transport, a De Soto, Iowa-based animal adoption service posted on Facebook last Friday about the disease, writing that they had purchased 32 dogs for rescue from Iowa Puppies, a Knoxville, Iowa, dog-breeding facility that was going out of business. That breeder also sold dogs to another customer, and it was those dogs who tested positive for the disease.

Meanwhile, from the Iowa Puppies Facebook page, which also states that the breeder is closed for business: “We sell only quality puppies and are all about ensuring the health and wellbeing of our puppies before they go to their new homes.”

AHeinz57 isn’t taking any chances with their newly acquired rescues: “All of the dogs we purchased are being tested and currently quarantined at our facility with biosecurity measures in place to prevent any possible exposure to other dogs or people,” they state in their post. “We have not received any results yet.” (Read the 2018 AAHA Infection Control, Prevention, and Biosecurity Guidelines here.)

The post also states that the shelter is closing for the next month as an addition precaution against any possible spread of infection.

It wraps up with this heartfelt message: “This is just one more reason to ADOPT and not SHOP! Please pray for our sweet babies that were finally getting the chance to have a happy life.”

Photo credit: © iStock/fotocelia