Clinical management of Brucella suis infection in dogs and implications for public health

D. R. James, G. Golovsky, J. M. Thornton, L. Goodchild, M. Havlicek, P. Martin, M. B. Krockenberger, D. J E Marriott, V. Ahuja, R. Malik, S. M. Mor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Brucellosis caused by Brucella suis is a notifiable disease that has recently emerged in dogs in New South Wales (NSW). Given the potential for zoonotic transmission, euthanasia of affected dogs is recommended, but this action is not mandatory. We report the clinical management of three dogs that underwent treatment at their owners’ request. Case reports: A 14-month-old spayed female crossbreed originally obtained from an urban animal shelter underwent extensive investigations in 2011–12 for lameness and back pain, culminating in decompressive laminectomy. Diagnosis of multifocal discospondylitis and spinal empyema was made, with B. suis cultured from surgical biopsy specimens. The dog responded to long-term treatment using rifampicin and doxycycline. A second case of B. suis infection was diagnosed in January 2016 in a 3-year-old crossbreed pig-hunting dog with unilateral testicular enlargement. Following serological diagnosis the dog was given preliminary therapy using rifampicin and doxycycline, the affected testis was resected and the patient given a further month of combination therapy. In March 2016 a 7-year-old crossbreed pig-hunting dog with brucellosis was handled similarly, although both testes were removed. Conclusion: Brucellosis should be considered in the differential diagnosis of back pain, discospondylitis, lameness, abortion, prostatic abscessation and testicular/epididymal enlargement in dogs, especially if there is exposure to feral pigs or consumption of uncooked feral pig meat. Euthanasia is the only guarantee of reducing the public health risk to zero. However, where treatment is desired by the owner, combination therapy using rifampicin and doxycycline appears to be effective, when combined with surgical resection of infected tissues. Further monitoring of dogs during and after treatment is required to document cure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-25
Number of pages7
JournalAustralian Veterinary Journal
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2017


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