The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship says it is notifying people who have custody of the exposed dogs. It is also recommended that dog owners who have "recently acquired a new, small breed dog from Marion County" contact a veterinarian and their own physician.
"This serves as a reminder that is always important to practice good biosecurity, like thoroughly washing your hands after handling animals - even household pets", the release said.
Heinz said someone contacted them about the auction and said this particular commercial breeder was closing and would have some of the older dogs up for adoption, which is why they chose to attend.
While it is rarely reported in humans, canine brucellosis is zoonotic - meaning it can infect people through contaminated blood, urine, milk or other reproductive fluids. Dogs with inflamed lymph nodes, acting abnormally, losing weight, or are lethargic may be infected.
Human infection from the disease is rare, the university said.
The rescue said their shelter building is closed for the next 30 days and warned those who have bought dogs from breeders in Iowa to test for brucellosis. "We also issued quarantines to make sure that we stop the spread of the disease", Kaisand said.
Canine brucellosis is chronic and has no apparent cure, Dr. Edward Dubovi, a professor of virology at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, told The Washington Post.
"Persons with a weakened immune system due to disease or medication, young children, and pregnant women are likely at greater risk of developing more severe symptoms if they are exposed", the Department said in a notice. "Please pray for our sweet babies that were finally getting the chance to have a happy life".