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  • Writer's pictureErin Schwartzkopf

Brucellosis...Not Just a Breeder Problem

If you own a dog, you need to learn about brucellosis. Whether your dog is spayed/neutered or not. Whether you breed or never plan to. This disease is not only transmitted sexually...and it is cropping up in shelters from imported rescues. If you bring home a dog with brucellosis from a shelter, not only can you infect any other dogs you have, but pregnant women and other animals.

The following was written by a member of the Breeders' Committee for the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America. She has been a breeder for 20+ years and spent years working with the USDA as a kennel inspector. She has the background to know what she is talking about.

"For my breeder friends.

I was supposed to submit an article on this to True Grit and it completely slipped my mind. This is a very good and informative article though, so I'll just add some comments. Please read both the article and my info to get the big picture on this disease.

The reason this came up in one of my conversations was because some of my friends that are very responsible and highly respected breeders commented that they didn't worry about brucellosis because they only bred their dogs inside or with trusted friends. Brucellosis doesn't care who your friends are. It doesn't not infect your dogs just because the stud dog or bitch you are using is one that you bred and co-own. It doesn't care that the bitch has never been bred.

Another important thing to know is that spaying and neutering and placing an infected dog doesn't stop the disease from spreading. If brucellosis enters your kennel, you may lose your entire breeding program - and all of your dogs. The only thing that stops it is euthanasia, and killing it on the property is no small task.

When you bring a new breeding dog in, you don't just put it in your kennel or home. You test it. You retest it. We have been lucky in the terrier world recently. But twenty years ago when I entered the world of Jack Russells, that was not the case. A fairly large breeding program had been affected by it. And everyone brucellosis tested prior to breeding. I'm not sure when this process stopped. But it's not something to take lightly, and it needs to be a serious part of your breeding considerations. In the Labrador world I have found it to be a much more stringent requirement.

Another thing to note is that is does cross species. Raw feeders need to be aware what game animals can be affected - I stopped feeding raw when I found out that brucellosis was making a comeback in the feral swine population. It is also found in elk. It is zoonotic and will transmit to humans from infected animals so precautions need to be taken when cleaning animals as well if you are a hunter.

Don't take this lightly as a breeder. It's a simple test. The most common test (RAST) can produce a false positive because it tests for a group of bacteria and doesn't distinguish between the types that are harmful (the type that causes brucellosis) and the other bacteria that is similar and not harmful. It never produces a false negative. It detects infections after 8-12 weeks. If a positive result is given, the dog should be tested with the more advanced test (AGIT). This test will identify infected animals between 12 weeks and 3 years post infection. There is a protocol in place for suspected infection - quarantine and retesting procedures are described in detail.

I've made this post public so please feel free to share the entire post and not just the article. The more education we put out there, the more likely we are to keep this disease at bay. It's everywhere and is becoming more widespread in spite of the simple testing procedures."

-Wendy Palmer

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