A recent breakout of Campylobacteriosis, reportedly originating from a supplier of puppies to pet stores, has been the cause of the 55 human outbreaks in 12 U.S. states found so far. Your own dog could be carrying this disease!
Pets may not exhibit symptoms, like diarrhea or nausea, and still carry the disease. And campylobacteriosis can be carried by puppies and adult dogs, kittens and adult cats, no matter where they are purchased or adopted. So you always should have blood, urine, and fecal tests conducted by a veterinarian as soon as possible, before or soon after you bring them home.
"Up to 49 percent of dogs carry campylobacteriosis, shedding it into their feces for other animals to contract," according to Pet MD.
Where does the campylobacter come from and how do we contain its spread?
What is Campylobacteria?
Campylobacter is a bacteria common in birds, although it can also live in the intestines of animals. Chickens, alive or dead, are the most common source of transmission. Animals and humans who eat chicken or chicken parts that are not thoroughly cooked may pick up the bacteria and pass it on to others.
Campylobacteriosis bacteria in 3D: image source
This can be the source of an 'outbreak' of campylobacteriosis, where perhaps a kennel of puppies ate the same contaminated food or drank contaminated water, possibly got infected with the bacteria, and then communicated it through saliva or feces to their eventual human owners. They may have also picked up the bacteria from eating other dogs' feces (Dogs will be dogs.), or stepping in other dog's feces and then licking their paws. Outside of kennels, shelters, and dog parks, where lots of dogs are together, most cases of campylobacteriosis are isolated.
A source of the disease in humans may be not cleaning your hands after touching your pet's feces, or allowing your dog or cat to lick you and then not cleansing the area. This was most likely the case when so many people were infected by the puppies who originated at the same kennel. But for the most part, campylobacteriosis tends to occur in isolated cases in humans, often from situations in which chicken has not been cooked thoroughly (160°) before eating, or its food preparation areas have not been thoroughly cleaned after using.
There is certainly a danger in not cleaning your hands after grooming your pet, or touching his feces, or allowing your dog or cat to lick you, and then not washing the area he licked.
Symptoms and Treatment of Campylobacteriosis in Pets
Puppies or kitties may not have gastrointestinal disorders that humans typically get from campylobacter, but dogs and cats can pass the bacteria along to humans through saliva or feces. Symptoms of campylobacteriosis in pets generally include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and enlarged lymph nodes. (PetMD) If your pet has diarrhea for more than a few days, or if diarrhea is accompanied by any of the other symptoms, she should be examined by the vet and tested for campylobacteriosis. Generally, an antibiotic and special diet will be prescribed. Hydration is a must!
All new canine and feline additions to your household should have a first visit to a veterinarian to make sure they are in good health. One of the tests performed is an analysis of a stool sample which will indicate what kinds of gastrointestinal bacteria are hanging around in your dog's poop.
Symptoms and Treatment of Campylobacteriosis in Humans
Symptoms of campylobacteriosis in humans include nausea, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and abdominal pain. Prescription medicine is not generally offered as a treatment for campylobacteriosis in humans, which is very similar to food poisoning, unless symptoms are severe. The main thing you want to do is re-hydrate! There are situations, when occurring in infants, elderly, or in those with otherwise compromised immune systems, where medical attention should be given as soon as possible. Anyone who experiences the symptoms of campylobacteriosis or food poisoning more than two days without improvement should also see a doctor.
Outside of kennels, shelters, and dog parks, where lots of dogs are together, campylobacteriosis tends to occur in isolated cases in humans, often from situations in which chicken (or beef or fish) has not been cooked thoroughly (160°) before eating, or its food preparation areas have not been thoroughly cleaned after use, and the residual bacteria contaminated another food, perhaps a vegetable. Campylobacteriosis may also be found in unpasteurized milk.
How Can You Prevent Campylobacteriosis?
- Have your new pet tested for bacterial disease before introducing him to your home from a kennel, shop, or shelter.
- Make sure your pets are checked out by their vets every 6 months when a fecal test should be performed.
- Make sure all surfaces are thoroughly cleaned after preparing poultry, meat, or fish. Do not let allow other foods to touch uncleaned surfaces.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after preparation of poultry, meat, or fish.
- Cook all foods thoroughly. Do not eat any poultry, meat, or fish that is not thoroughly cooked.
- Keep your dog away from other dog's feces (ODF!) and from drinking water from communal bowls.
- Always wash thoroughly after contact with your pet's feces, fur, or saliva.