Contact: Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell’Abruzzo e del Molise “G. Caporale”
P6-08 Clinical and laboratory surveillance of suspected infections in kennel workers in an outbreak of Brucella canis.


Brucella canis



Humans and dogs commonly share the same domestic environment. Zoonotic pathogens may be harboured by dogs, and potentially be transmitted to humans and owners that often consider their dogs as family members. Brucella canis is one of those pathogens at risk of transmission to humans. The first evidence of B. canis in a dog in Italy was reported in 2010, based on serological and PCR findings. More recently, B. canis was isolated for the first time in Italy, during a large outbreak occurred in a commercial breeding kennel. Although canine brucellosis is considered a zoonosis, confirmed human cases are relatively uncommon, with roughly 50 cases identified in the US since 1973. Lab employees, voluntaries, veterinarians, owners and people having close and frequent contacts with infected dogs are considered at higher risk of infection. However, human brucellosis caused by B. canis is underestimated due to the general lack of specific serological tests and misconceptions concerning its prevalence. Uncontrolled spread of infection in dogs may have important public health implications so that actions are required to acquire data on distribution of this underhanded zoonosis of pets, as well as to control its spread in high-risk environments. Following detection of canine brucellosis in the Italian breeding kennel, more than one person among veterinarians and kennel’s operators reported symptoms compatible with Brucella infection. Since all these people had an active and long lasting role in the management and handling of the dogs in the brucellosis outbreak, B. canis was not excluded as the possible cause of their illness. Diagnosis of human brucellosis relies on bacterial culture, molecular or mass spectrometry identification, and serological tests. Unfortunately, sen-sitivity of culture is extremely low and serological tests available for classical Brucella, are not effective to detect B. canis antibodies. Thus, the same tests available for dogs where applied to investigate suspect clinical cases arose in workers involved in the outbreak. In the view of a public health approach controlling for canine brucellosis, it would be important and urgent to develop validated laboratory protocols to support diagnosis of infection in humans.