Vets urged to encourage pre-import screening for Brucella canis

2nd November 2023
Industry News

A group of senior government vets has called on the professions to recommend the pre-import screening of dogs to help reduce the risks posed by Brucella canis.

Prospective owners and importers are also set to be urged to seek veterinary advice and to test animals before they are brought to the UK or prior to re-homing.

The moves are contained within new guidance issued following the publication of an updated risk assessment for the bacteria last month.

A letter to professionals – jointly signed by UK CVO Christine Middlemiss and her Scottish and Welsh counterparts, Sheila Voas and Richard Irvine – described it as an “emerging issue” here following recent increases in case numbers.

The trio insisted they were “confident this is still mostly a problem associated with imported dogs used for breeding”.

It also stressed that the recommended actions were “advisory and voluntary”, pending the collection of further evidence that could inform changes in policy.

New risk assessment

The BVA, plus a number of leading experts, have been at the forefront of calls in recent months for mandatory pre-import testing to help reduce the risk posed by B canis.

But the letter’s recommendations are in line with an updated risk assessment published last month, which only advocated encouraging additional checks.

The CVOs wrote: “We will be writing to prospective dog owners and organisations considering the importation of puppies and dogs, or when purchasing a previously imported dog, as well as dog breeders, to seek veterinary advice and consider the testing of dogs prior to breeding and deciding to import or rehome in the UK.

“We would be very grateful if you could also advise any prospective breeder, rehoming organisation or individuals to screen animals for infection with Brucella canis before making the decision to import or rehome in the UK.”

The letter also advises vets to test dogs “when there are obvious and specific clinical signs that raise suspicion of canine brucellosis, particularly with a history of import or close association with imported dogs”, despite critics’ fears that a large proportion of dogs may be falsely testing positive.


Credit to:  Vets urged to encourage pre-import screening for Brucella canis (Vet Times)

Vet Times. (2023).  Vets urged to encourage pre-import screening for Brucella canis [online]

Available at: