As you may be aware, there are a number of infectious diseases seen outside the UK which imported pets may be carrying on entry to the UK, some of which can affect human health. Following growing government and UK specialist vet advice, we are now requesting that all of our imported patients are tested for Brucellosis.
Hopefully the below FAQ’s will answer any questions you may have.
What is Brucellosis? It is a bacterial infection that can spread from animals to humans.
What are the risks to humans and why are we taking this so seriously? People with Brucellosis may develop fever, lethargy, headaches, back pain and physical weakness. In severe cases, the central nervous system and heart may be affected. It can also be a cause of abortion and infertility.
You have seen my dog before without testing, why now? We are aware this change initially may seem odd. The rise in the global movement of pets is unfortunately bringing increasing numbers of new diseases which UK vets were not familiar with in the past. As the number of cases rise, we are following updated guidelines and advice. We anticipate all vets will be introducing similar measures in the near future with many practices already testing for Brucella.
My dog has been here for 5 years, why am I having to test? Unfortunately, dogs can remain without symptoms for many years but they can still spread the disease. We have consulted a specialist and their recommendation is to test irrespective of how long ago they were imported.
Do I need to test if my dog goes abroad on holiday? The risks of infection would be low enough that this is not recommended. Close contact with other dogs, particularly strays, is the highest risk factor for infection and this is unlikely to happen on a holiday.
I don’t want you to test my dog, what happens now? Our staff will be advised to wear protective clothing when handling your dog, which will be charged at a cost of £5.65 per visit. We understand this may appear quite dramatic, but we do have a responsibility to the safety of our staff. Should your pet require surgery, we will insist on testing prior to this as Brucellosis has a higher risk of being spread during surgical procedures.
My dog has already had testing before? If your pet has already been tested for Brucella, please provide us with details and copies of lab results for our records. Please be aware that Brucellosis is not picked up from routine blood tests, it is a specific test for this particular bacteria.
What happens if my dog tests positive? Please be reassured that the number of cases of Brucella are still very low. Given its severity however, sadly the recommendation after a positive result is euthanasia given the risk to humans, other dogs and to prevent your dog suffering as the condition progresses. We are aware that this is a very distressing prospect and may make you unsure about testing. It does however highlight the severity of Brucellosis as a disease and explain why we are now taking this so seriously.
The only alternative would be isolating your dog and taking measures to protect yourself and your family. Please see the link to the PDSA information sheet for further information regarding these measures.
How much will it cost? We send tests directly to the government laboratory rather than through our external laboratory at a cost of £76.15 per test.
My dog can’t have blood samples without sedation what can I do? We can dispense an anti-anxiety medication called trazodone before your pet’s appointment which often allows us to take a blood sample. If this is not enough then we can discuss other options of sedation or wait until your pet next requires a sedation for another reason. We will utilise protective clothing when handling your dog until that point.
What other diseases can be tested for in imported pets? There are many other diseases which are not normally present in the UK that imported dogs can be infected with. These can cause serious and lifelong illness in pets but can’t be transmitted from dogs to people. Please let us know if you would like more information, as testing for these diseases can be performed on the same blood sample as the Brucella test.
Please give our reception team a call on 0118 4028822 or book a vet appointment online to arrange your dog’s Brucella test.
If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We understand as pet owners ourselves that this can be worrying for you.