Killer dog disease detected in NSW

Department of Primary Industries (DPI) senior veterinary officer pigs and poultry, Amanda Lee, said four dogs in NSW have recently tested positive for the Brucella suis strain of brucellosis disease, which originates in pigs.

“Brucellosis (Brucella suis) is a serious infectious disease of pigs that can be passed on to other animals and people through contact with urine, blood, saliva and reproductive materials,” Dr Lee said.

“Two pig hunting dogs in north-western NSW have recently tested positive for brucellosis after suspected contact with an infected feral pig in the Moree area.

“Both dogs presented separately to private veterinarians with clinical signs suggestive of brucellosis infection, including fever, enlarged lymph nodes and enlarged testicles.”

DPI has been assisted by Local Land Services in the investigations.  

Dr Lee said two other cases highlight the risk of brucellosis being transmitted to pups at birth.

“We’ve also confirmed that a Bull Arab cross living in Sydney, and a Great Dane cross pup in Walgett have tested positive for this disease,” Dr Lee said.

“Neither of the dogs have had any known contact with feral pigs and we suspect the disease may have been passed on by their mother at birth.

“It is a crucial reminder for people to be aware of their animal’s history and to purchase or obtain pups from reputable breeders.”

DPI recommends that dogs confirmed infected with brucellosis be euthanased because of the potential risk to people.

Director of Communicable Diseases Branch NSW Health, Dr Vicky Sheppeard, said NSW Health is in contact with the owners of the infected dogs and vets who treated the dogs.

“Brucellosis in humans is a potentially fatal disease and symptoms may include intermittent fever, sweating, lethargy, loss of appetite, headache, and back pain,” Dr Sheppeard said.

“It is essential that people who are at an increased risk of brucellosis infection, including feral pig hunters, farm workers, vets and abattoir workers practise good personal hygiene and wear protective clothing when in close contact with potentially infected animals.”

Owners who are concerned that their dog may have signs of Brucellosis should contact their local veterinarian to have it assessed. The veterinarian will notify a Local Land Services inspector or an inspector with DPI if they consider the case suspect for Brucellosis.