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Brucellosis in Pig Dogs

Brucellosis (Brucella suis) has been detected in dogs that have been pig-hunting in northern NSW, particularly around the Moree area. Infection has also been detected in dogs that have been fed raw feral pig meat. Transmission of brucellosis around the time of birth is suspected in two young dogs (with no known contact with feral pigs) diagnosed with brucellosis in NSW.

Brucellosis is a disease caused by infection with a type of bacteria (Brucella suis). This disease is common in many parts of the world, but it is rare in Australia.  Brucella suis infection is widespread in Queensland's feral pig population and it has also been detected in the feral pig population in northern New South Wales.

Brucella suis can be transmitted to people. Feral pigs are the usual source of infection for people, particularly when there has been contact through breaks in the skin with the tissues and body fluids of an infected pig e.g. blood, urine, uterine discharges and aborted foetuses. Feeding feral pig meat to dogs is a major risk factor. The infection is very rarely transmitted from person-to-person.

Signs that a pig herd has become infected with brucellosis are mainly those of reproductive failure – abortions, returns-to-service after mating and the birth of weak or stillborn piglets. Some sows may develop an infection of the uterus and show a vaginal discharge. Infected boars may develop swollen, inflamed testicles. Pigs may become lame with swollen joints and/or develop signs of incoordination and hind leg paralysis.

Brucellosis (Brucella suis) in people is a potentially fatal disease. Symptoms may include intermittent fever, sweating, lethargy, loss of appetite, headaches, and back pain. Infection can cause spontaneous abortion in pregnant women. Symptoms typically begin with a flu-like illness. The symptoms usually start 5 to 60 days after exposure, but can occur up to 6 months later. The infection typically lasts for days or months, but can occasionally last much longer. Relapses can also occur.

Dogs infected with Brucella suis can remain bright, alert and show no obvious signs of infection. Dogs can also display a range of symptoms including the following:

  • fever
  • enlarged testicle/s
  • enlarged prostate
  • back pain
  • lameness
  • vomiting
  • lethargy
  • enlarged lymph nodes
  • blood in urine.

It is now a requirement of moving pigs into NSW from Qld that they are first inspected by a veterinarian and that veterinarian signs a form that states that they have no clinical signs of Brucellosis.

The owner or manager of the pigs also needs to complete a form.

Download declaration form

Please don't feed your dogs feral pig meat and take extreme care when handling feral pigs.  Cover all cuts and abrasions and wear protective clothing, gloves and a mask.

If you or your dog becomes unwell please seek medical or veterinary advice.