FARGO — The North Dakota Department of Agriculture has sent out an alert about a contagious dog that was either stolen or escaped from its home in north Fargo recently that could make other dogs, and even people, sick.

The adult female golden retriever disappeared from its yard near the El Zagal golf course, 1400 Elm St. N. in Fargo, around May 9, according to a department news release issued Thursday, June 3.

The dog was under quarantine after testing positive for brucellosis, which can cause serious illness in humans and is incurable in dogs.

Michelle Mielke, public information specialist at the Department of Agriculture, said the time gap was a result of a communication issue between the dog’s caretakers and the department.

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Mielke said their office became aware of the potential public health concern a few days ago, after one of their veterinarians contacted the infected dog’s veterinarian.

According to The State Board of Animal Health, dogs infected with brucellosis and not euthanized may be spayed or neutered and treated with a long course of antibiotics at the discretion of the pet owner and treating veterinarian.

However, in North Dakota, infected dogs must remain under permanent quarantine due to potential for relapse even under treatment.

That was the circumstance for the dog in question here, Mielke said.

The dog is microchipped under this number: #900215001868719.

Anyone who finds the dog or has information about it should immediately contact the Board of Animal Health at 1-800-242-7535 or by email at doa-bah@nd.gov.

If the dog is surrendered to a veterinary clinic or shelter, staff should isolate the dog and use appropriate protective measures.

State Veterinarian Dr. Susan Keller said signs of Brucella canis or B. canis in dogs can include reproductive failure, degenerative back pain, chronic eye disease or unexplained intermittent fever.

The timing of when the symptoms become evident can be tricky.

“It can take weeks, months or years before any outward signs of illness develop in people and pets,” Keller said.

In rare cases, B. canis can cause severe illness in people, especially in the very young, the elderly, immunocompromised individuals or people with occupational exposures to canine reproductive fluids.

"People who are infected with the bacteria may get flu-like symptoms, including intermittent fever, fatigue, muscle and joint pain and headaches,” said North Dakota Department of Health Infectious Disease and Epidemiology Director Michelle Dethloff.

Anyone who thinks they might have been exposed should contact their health care provider, Dethloff said.