Summertime for many means more time spent outside with our family, friends, and often our four-legged companions. It is a wonderful time of year to exercise ourselves, and mankind’s best friend, but as dog owners we need to remember that caring for our pets often necessitates caring for ourselves. While it may seem harmless to play fetch with Fido while having a snack, or to forget to wash up after washing Winslow, you may be exposing yourself to the harmful Campylobacter bacteria.
According to the CDC, the Campylobacter bacteria causes an estimated 1.5 million illnesses each year. It can be contracted by eating raw or undercooked poultry, or eating something that has touched it, as well as from seafood, other animal products, and untreated water. However, another under-discussed vehicle for Campylobacter infection is contact with animals, and specifically dogs.
In 2021, the CDC announced an outbreak of Campylobacter jejuni that infected 56 people in 17 different states. That outbreak was eventually linked to contact with dogs, especially pet store puppies. According to the CDC, even healthy looking and clean dogs can carry Campylobacter germs that can make people sick and can contract the bacteria a number of ways. However, in order to protect ourselves, and because we love to love our four-legged friends, we can practice the following tips from the CDC to keep from contracting Campylobacter from our dogs:
· Wash your hands: Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer, right after touching your dog, after handling their food, and after cleaning up after them. Make sure your young children are frequently washing or sanitizing their hands properly.
· Don’t let dogs lick: Don’t let your dog lick you or your children around your mouth and face, or around open wounds or areas with broken skin. Don’t touch around your mouth or open wounds after playing with your dog, until after you have thoroughly washed your hands.
· Keep things clean: Clean up any pee, poop, or vomit inside the house immediately. Then disinfect the area using a water and bleach solution. Keep your dog’s habitat clean and don’t play or let your children play on dog beds or in areas outside where your dog frequently goes to the bathroom.
· Monitor your dog’s health: Take your dog to the veterinarian regularly to keep it healthy, and anytime it is sick to prevent the spread of disease. Only give your dog antibiotics when prescribed by the veterinarian and according to instructions.