WATCH: A B.C. woman contracted a contagious disease from a dog she’d rescued in Mexico.
Mexico has more street dogs than any country in Latin America and whether it’s canines with no homes or other dogs that just need a new one, Canadians have been adopting them for years.
But now there are new concerns being raised by the BC Centre for Disease Control.
“Bringing dogs in from other counties has the risk of also importing with them diseases that occur in other countries but that don’t occur here,” said Dr. Elani Galanis, an epidemiologist and public health physician at the BC Centre for Disease Control.
Brucella Canis is a disease usually only found in dogs, that is until recently when an otherwise healthy B.C. woman who was involved in the transportation of dogs from Mexico went to her doctor with a fever and was found to have the same canine disease.
On one occasion, she was bringing back a pregnant dog from Mexico and likely came into contact with the animal’s pregnancy fluids as it spontaneously aborted two stillborn puppies, Galanis said, adding the dog later tested positive for the bacterium Brucella canis and the woman was diagnosed after seeking medical treatment last December.
“We didn’t think it was that transmissible from dogs to humans and so having someone become ill with Brucella canis from a dog really raises concern,” added Galanis.
Karen Munro runs a non-profit organization in Victoria called Mexpup that helps people adopt dogs from Peurto Vallarta.
She was concerned to hear the sick woman.
“As soon as I heard about it I was sending off emails to Mexico right away,” she said. “This is something that if there’s a chance that one of our dogs could have this and pass it on we absolutely want to be on top of it right away.”
The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association says animals imported from other countries should be tested for numerous communicable diseases including Brucella canis, something Munro supports.
“I also think if they’re more thorough in screening animals coming into our country then I think it’s going to eliminate some people who are doing dog rescues and rightfully so,” said Munroe.