I recently asked my significant other (a Veterinarian who was top of his graduating class) this question and the exact answer I got was: “Not much, really.”
I realize that this is probably because often in small animal veterinary medicine, we focus heavily on spaying and neutering. But what if you had an owner interested in breeding their pet or a patient with possibly compatible clinical signs?
As one of the few venereal diseases in our companion animals, it’s important to have some working knowledge about this serious, zoonotic, highly infectious, and in some states, reportable disease. There is a wealth of excellent information about B. canis available from the USDA/APHIS that can be accessed at this link: USDA/APHIS
So, what if you had to screen for B. canis at your clinic? What are some of the facts do you need to know about testing? (1)
- Commonly used in- clinic, point-of-care tests are serologic and require a serum sample
- RSAT (rapid slide agglutination test) is commonly used as a screening tool
- It is “based on direct agglutination of killed stained whole-cell antigen by Brucella canis antibodies.” (3)
- It is important to remember that it can take weeks to months for dogs to seroconvert post-infection
- 2- mercaptoethanol (2-ME) can be added to tests to improve specificity; this is called ME-RSAT
- It is recommend to handle samples and tests with great caution as B. canis is zoonotic
- Make sure to read the product insert for test kits and follow instructions closely
- False positives are a concern with both the RSAT and ME-RSAT tests
- Confirmatory testing is recommended such as with agar gel immunodiffusion
- Positive results for B. canis are reportable in some states - make sure to check with your state veterinarian!
1. Best Practices for Brucella canis Prevention and Control in Dog Breeding Facilities. USDA and APHIS.
2. Brucellosis: Brucella canis. CFSPH IA State.
3. Canine Brucellosis Antibody Test Kit. Zoetis.