Although since September of last year there has been knowledge of a possible outbreak of canine brucellosisonly seven months later, actions would have been taken to mitigate the risk of spreading the disease. illness and a possible impact on the public health. Indeed, there are suspicions of an infected person who would have had contact with animals sick.
The warning is made by the Personería de Bogotá in a document addressed to the Ministry of Health with the subject ‘Untimely attention to the risk generated by the confirmation of an outbreak of brucellosis in the city’, in which it makes “an urgent call” so that adopt prevention, control, treatment, investigation and attention actions that mitigate the occupational and public health risk.
Brucellosis is a disease of bacterial origin that has several strains that affect cattle, sheep, goats, canines, among other species, and that can be transmitted to people. The animals with a positive diagnosis have arrived at the Animal Care Unit (UCA), attached to the District Institute for Animal Welfare and Protection (IDPYBA), they come mostly from the street, but also from abandoned, rescued and farms.
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The control body specifies that in mid-March last, the Rose Bengal tests carried out on collaborators who have been in contact with positive animals at the UCA gave a result that could indicate “an alert of the possible presence of brucella.” But despite this situation, The Ministry of Health has not issued a statement regarding the monitoring of the suspected case and its epidemiological surveillance.nor in relation to the implementation of protocols for the care of the Institute’s collaborators who had contact with animals confirmed with RT-PCR tests.
The document indicates that only until March 31, 2022, the humane euthanasia of six positive canines was scheduled and that this shows that the decisions and actions “were implemented approximately seven months after the preliminary knowledge of the suspected cases.”
The document, which is addressed to the secretary Alejandro Gómez, also indicates that he is unaware of the action against the other canines that are in the Animal Protection Institute and those who live on the street.
The IDPYBA, when consulted by this newspaper, pointed out that in July 2020 the first cases were found and that as of July 2021 it was implemented “That all canines that entered the UCA, regardless of whether they had symptoms, had a sample taken for the diagnosis of brucellosis canis, which led to an increase in the detection of cases.”
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Confirmed Animal Cases
According to the institute’s report to this newspaper, From January 2021 to May 31, 681 immunochromatography tests for Brucella canis have been carried out on animals that are in the UCA and that 4.34 percent have tested positive. He added that the confirmed cases presented symptoms compatible with the disease, such as conditions in the reproductive system in males (orchitis) and females (abortions) and cervical joint problems (discospondyloarthrosis and vertebral fusions).
The Ministry of Health ensures that there is no outbreak because the two associated conditions are not met: that it is unusual and that it is linked to a delimited geographical location. “Canine brucellosis is a disease that commonly circulates in canine populations in the city, due to two particular conditions that make it difficult to manage: first, it is a disease that does not have a vaccine in this species and, second, it is normally asymptomatic ”.
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However, doctor Luis Jorge Hernández, a health specialist at the Universidad de los Andes, says that in the case of Bogotá “the public health guard has been lowered, especially in zoonoses such as rabies and brucellosis.” He considers it essential that surveillance be reinforced and that an epidemiological report must be made, and this must be presented to the public.
In this sense, a technician from the disciplinary control body told this newspaper that they are concerned that “there is no evidence of surveillance and prevention actions of risk factors or epidemiological field investigation, in order to determine the origin of the positive animals as a possible source of transmission and source of contagion”.
For its part, Jorge Zambrano, a veterinary doctor and professor at the National University, says that this is a zoonotic disease that can affect more people who work in processing plants, diagnostic laboratories, hatcheries and protection centers. and animal adoption (where there is very direct contact) and that the risk with pets is different from that with street animals.
He also points out that it is not necessary to sacrifice the infected animal and that castration and antibiotic treatment are valid, but he acknowledges that “there is still a long way to go to have an efficient control program for stray animals and with systems of adoption, sterilization and with control of infectious diseases (not only brucellosis)”.
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The brucellosis expert affirms that it is not easy to prove that there is an outbreak because, as in the case of the strain that affects canines, very specific diagnostic tests are needed, beyond PCR, and that the Bengal Rose (which is would have been used in Bogotá for humans) is for brucella that affects bovines and in this case a positive result does not imply infection.
Zambrano draws attention to the fact that the country does not have a critical route for managing the disease, but that, nevertheless, the National University, the INS and the ICA are working on creating one. “Everything can be done well and with some costs and a responsibility of the Government, which has to intervene in that,” he says, adding that it is a job that must be done by everyone.
“There are cases in canines, but not in people”: Health
The Ministry of Health assures that there is no outbreak of canine brucellosis and that what was identified is “a conglomeration of cases in canines” in street condition that enter the UCA from different locations.
Regarding the confirmed cases, it indicates that, “having applied the diagnostic algorithm defined by this entity and that was approved by the Ministry of Health, for the approach of the 26 cases reported as suspects, a total of 15 animals were confirmed as cases of brucellosis.” It says that while there is a risk of transmission from animals to people, this is “extremely rare due to the nature of the disease.”
The Secretariat also points out that “no confirmed case of brucellosis has been reported in people” who have had contact with confirmed canines from the UCA and that “like other events of public health interest, suspected or confirmed cases of brucellosis in people are treated in accordance with the guidelines defined from the national level”.
GUILLERMO REINOSO RODRIGUEZ
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