The British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA) has contributed to a joint policy position on Brucella canis, alongside the British Veterinary Association (BVA), the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA), and the Society for Practicing Veterinary Surgeons (SPVS).

The position encourages veterinary teams to consider all available clinical information alongside laboratory test results for Brucella canis, and to individually risk assess cases when deciding on suitable treatment or euthanasia options for those dogs that test positive. It includes a suite of recommendations and resources around the diagnosis, testing and management of Brucella canis. The position also calls on Government to tighten pet import rules and introduce appropriate mandatory pre-import testing to shut the door on this and other serious exotic diseases.

Among the 13 recommendations, the policy position advises that vets:

  • Use their clinical judgement to make a contextualised decision regarding testing for B. canis, based on risk assessment and conversations with the animal owner and all relevant stakeholders. Information from this policy position, as well as from APHA and BSAVA will be useful when making these decisions.
  • Make owners aware of associated costs and potential outcomes before tests are conducted in order to ensure informed consent.
  • Use B. canis SAT and iELISA serological tests in most cases to determine the infection status of a dog, using blood samples taken three months after potential infection. However, serological tests alone should not be used to confirm infection, and results should be considered alongside additional evidence, such as clinical signs, movement history and likelihood of exposure to the infection.
  • Individually risk assess cases when deciding on suitable treatment or euthanasia options following confirmation of B. canis infection. The quality of life and the potential impact on that dog, other dogs and people should take precedence over longevity for the infected dog.
  • Work to improve awareness of clinical signs and risk factors amongst colleagues and the animal-owning public to help manage and minimise spread of the disease, whilst continuing to provide appropriate care for potentially at-risk dogs.

BVNA President Lyndsay Hughes said:

“We know there is currently much concern and uncertainty within the veterinary nursing profession regarding the incidence of potential and actual Brucella canis cases, and the risk to human health – particularly within our veterinary teams. The profession and public should be reassured that this risk is currently low, however we cannot ignore that the incidence of Brucella canis is rising.

“We would encourage veterinary teams to engage with this policy position, in order to ensure the risk of Brucella canis to human health continues to be minimised. Veterinary nurses are ideally placed to contribute to the implementation of effective practice protocols, along with client education – and so engaging with the evolving evidence base remains as crucial as ever.

“The increase in Brucella canis cases in recent years also highlights a significant need for Government to establish more robust import rules for animals entering the UK, including appropriate mandatory pre-import testing.”

The joint policy position on Brucella canis is available at:

APHA’s updated guidance for veterinary professionals is available to view at:

BSAVA’s Scientific Information Document can be viewed at: