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Brucellosis is a highly contagious bacterial disease of animals.

First published:
19 November 2018
Last updated:

The disease can affect various livestock, including:

  • cattle
  • sheep
  • pigs
  • goats

It can also affect people (zoonosis). The last reported case in livestock in Great Britain was in 2004.

There is also a type of Brucellosis (Brucella Canis) which affects dogs. This is not notifiable in animals. Visit Brucella canis: information for the public and dog owners to find out more. 

The following information relates to brucellosis in livestock.

Suspicion and confirmation

Contact your local Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) office immediately on 0300 303 8268, if you suspect Brucellosis.

APHA vets will investigate suspected cases.

Clinical signs

Signs can vary by species. You can expect to see:

  • abortions and premature births in a herd
  • swollen udders and testicles in sheep and goats
  • nervousness
  • fever

Transmission, prevention and treatment

The disease spreads through contact with infected material, containing the bacteria. Infected animals have very high levels of bacteria in their birth fluids.

Main routes of infection include:

  • drinking or eating contaminated water or feed
  • drinking the milk of an infected animal

For humans this can include:

  • direct contact with infected animals or their secretions
  • drinking or eating unpasteurised milk and dairy products (in countries where brucellosis occurs)

You can help prevent the disease by practising strict biosecurity on your premises. This is especially important when handling aborted foetuses. You should report all bovine abortions and premature births to APHA.

There is no treatment available for Brucellosis. To prevent the spread of the disease, you must cull infected animals, as instructed by APHA.