Ann Luke from Gunnedah Pet Vet has said owners need to have their dogs screened – whether or not they are sick.
“None of the dogs I tested last week were sick, or had been presented to a vet as sick,” Ms Luke said.
“This was just screening for an owner’s peace of mind.”
Eight dogs were taken to the vets by two Mullaley owners and three tested positive to brucellosis. The dogs were euthenased as recommended by the NSW Health Service.
Ms Luke said before the recent case in Gunnedah, brucellosis, which is potentially fatal to humans, had only been found in the Moree region.
Local Land Services material describes pig or swine brucellosis as a serious disease affecting pigs, dogs and humans caused by the bacteria Brucella suis.
Humans can contract the disease directly from pigs and potentially through contact with dogs that have been infected by pigs.
“Brucellosis used to be seen mainly in Queensland, however, in recent months, movement of feral pig populations has led to the diagnosis of several cases in north-western NSW,” a Land Services pamphlet says.
“Cases in dogs have recently been
diagnosed in Moree, Gunnedah, Bingara and Tamworth.”
Ms Luke said she was expecting a “large demand” for screening of dogs, which would involve sending a blood sample from each dog to government labratories.
“The cost of the test itself, if it comes back positive, will be covered by the Department of Primary Industries,”Ms Luke said.
“I recommend all pig hunters screen their animals in an effort to minimise the risk to owners’ health.”
Symptoms for brucellosis in people can include intermittent fever, sweating, lethargy, loss of appetite, headaches and back pain.
Dogs might show no sign of infection, or could have fever, enlarged testicles, enlarged prostate, back pain, lameness, vomiting, lethargy, enlarged lymph nodes and blood in their urine.
Further information is available from vets, the local public health unit on 1300 066 055 or the NSW Health brucellosis web page www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/diseases/Pages/brucellosis.aspx