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Rescue dogs from other countries can carry disease, B.C. doctor warns

A public health doctor in British Columbia says the transmission of infectious diseases from imported dogs to humans is an emerging problem and both doctors and patients should beware of symptoms.

Dr. Elani Galanis says that a woman who had fever, headache and weight loss for two months was diagnosed by a blood test that had an infectious disease called brucellosis caught from a dog she had rescued in Mexico.

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Galanis says the case was surprising as the patient was previously healthy and the infection usually only passed on to people with weakened immune systems or very young or elderly.

Veterinarian Rob Ashburner, a B.C. spokesman branch of the Canadian Veterinary Association, says there is an increased risk of various diseases and parasites from more and more dogs coming in from other countries.

He says the association has been working for several years to try to get the federal government to adopt stronger rules for imported dogs because certificates presented to Canadian border officials are sometimes false and animal inspections are not extensive.

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The Public Health Agency of Canada says it recognizes the transmission of diseases from animals, including dogs, is an important issue and it plans to work with the National Veterinary Group and the Canadian Food Inspectorate, which set requirements for animals entering the country.

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