A disease that is normally confined to dogs has spread to humans in Britain with three people reported to be infected.
Brucella canis is an incurable disease that leads to infertility in dogs and was previously only seen in isolated cases in animals imported from places like Eastern Europe.
The bacterial infection is slowly being passed through Britain’s canine population for the first time ever and has also infected three humans.
But now the UK Health Security Agency has confirmed it is spreading within the country and three human cases have also been spotted since 2022.
The cases are higher among pooches, with 91 already known to have caught it this year.
Dr Christine Middlemiss, chief veterinary officer at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), told The Telegraph: “We have had spread of a case in the UK to another dog in the UK. It is through breeding in kennels.
“There is not a lot – there is very little. But that is new for us.”
It is understood the spread of the infection in Britain came from British dogs that either came into contact with an imported dog or were the offspring of an imported dog.
The disease isn’t yet considered endemic and is still officially classed as low-risk.
A cross-government group, Human Animal Infections and Risk Surveillance (HAIRS), published a report on the risk Brucella canis poses and found there is a “very low” risk of Brits becoming infected.
Dog breeders, kennel workers, vets and owners of infected dogs are at a little bit more risk although still classed as “low”, the report states.
A total of three cases of people in the UK have been reported with two of these described in detail by HAIRS. One person’s infection was detected while they attended the hospital for symptoms.
In another case, a person working at vets who was routinely tested was found to be asymptomatic.
Scientists are considering the possibility of implementing a screening process at the UK border to stop infected animals getting into Britain.