Harvard Health Letter

Other pet-related diseases

Brucellosis

Brucellosis affects mainly farm animals but dogs may harbor the bacteria that cause the disease and spread it to other animals and people. Dog-to-human transmission is rare; the risk is higher for people who work around animals and pets — for veterinarians, for example — that it is for pet owners. Only a couple of hundred cases occur in the United States each year. The most common way of contracting the disease is eating or drinking contaminated milk products. Americans sometimes get brucellosis from eating unpasteurized milk or cheese while traveling in certain parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa.

The disease is caused by bacteria in the genus Brucella. The species that infects dogs is called Brucella canis.

The symptoms are similar to those produced by influenza: fever, headaches, back pain, and physical weakness. In severe cases, the infection gets into the central nervous system or lining of the heart.

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