A rare infectious disease has been found in dogs treated in Calgary that were imported from the southern United States and Mexico.

Officials say Alberta Health Services has been notified and the owners of the infected dogs have been told of the potential risk of contracting the disease from their animals.

"Brucella canis bacteria can infect a variety of different tissues in the body, but are most commonly associated with infections of the reproductive organs in dogs," according to a news release. "The disease can spread between dogs and also to humans, although the risk of transmission to people is believed to be quite low."

Following the initial diagnosis of Brucella canis in one dog by a local veterinarian, experts at the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) have since identified four other cases.

The first case originated from the southern U.S. and three other dogs tested positive after coming into contact. The other case came from Mexico and had no contact with the other dogs.

"While not highly contagious if animals have been spayed or neutered, the bacteria are difficult to eradicate from dogs, so proper management of infected animals is critical,” said small animal internal medicine specialist Dr. Serge Chalhoub.

He is now working with a team of experts to define the extent of the problem and provide guidelines for managing animals who have tested positive or who have been exposed to dogs carrying the bacteria.

The disease can cause a variety of symptoms in dogs depending on the site of infection, so officials say consultation with a veterinarian is important in clinical management.

Officials also stressed the importance of discussing travel history and the origin of pets with a veterinarian when they arrive in Alberta to help mitigate potential disease risks to other animals and humans.

Below is more information on the disease and precautions pet owners can take. On mobile? Click here.