A rare bacteria that can cause infertility and reproductive issues in dogs has begun spreading to humans in the U.K. Three people have reportedly been infected with Brucella Canis for the first time in the country.

Brucella Canis is the bacteria responsible for causing the infectious disease Brucellosis, which affects various animals including sheep, cattle, goats, pigs and dogs. The infection-causing bacteria gets transmitted to humans mostly by consuming contaminated dairy products. It can also enter the human body through wounds while the person is in contact with infected animals or through direct inhalation.

Employees working at slaughterhouses and meat-packing units, as well as those who handle the bacteria in laboratories, are said to be at higher risk.

Health officials in the U.K issued a warning as they saw an increase in the number of reports of Brucella Canis in dogs. "We have had spread of a case in the U.K. to another dog in the U.K. It is through breeding in kennels. There is not a lot — there is very little. But that is new for us," Dr. Christine Middlemiss, chief veterinary officer at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the U.K., told the Telegraph.

However, the situation is not yet considered endemic, and there is no report of human-to-human spread of the disease. "The probability of infection would be considered very low for the general U.K. population," the U.K. Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said in a news release.

Symptoms of Brucellosis

Infected dogs can show signs such as swollen or shrunken testicles, reduced fertility, anorexia, weight loss, pain, lameness, impaired movement, swollen lymph nodes and muscle weakness.

When humans get infected with Brucella Canis, they can suffer from fever, malaise, fatigue, headache, muscular and joint aches, sweats and anorexia. Some patients may also exhibit symptoms such as chronic fatigue, recurrent fever, arthritis and swelling of the heart, liver or testicles.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Brucellosis diagnosis is usually done through tests that detect bacteria in body fluids or antibodies against the bacteria.

Upon diagnosis, doctors typically prescribe antibiotics for treatment. The recovery time depends on the severity of the illness. Death from the disease is rare, occurring only in 2% of the cases.