What To Do When Your Dog Gets Campylobacter

What To Do When Your Dog Gets Campylobacter

Campylobacter is a genus of bacteria that is among the most common causes of bacterial infections in humans worldwide. The name means “curved rod,” deriving from the Greek campylos (curved) and baktron (rod). It has been noted that there “is wide diversity in the genus. The species are metabolically and genetically different to the extent that one can question whether one genus is adequate to house all the species.”

Of its many species, Campylobacter jejuni is considered one of the most important from both a microbiological and public health perspective. Campylobacter jejuni is a gram-negative, microaerophilic, thermophilic rod that grows best at 42°C (107°F) and low oxygen concentrations. These characteristics are adaptations for growth in its normal habitat—the intestines of warm-blooded birds and mammals. Several closely related species with similar characteristics, C. coli, C. fetus, and C. upsalienis, may also cause disease in humans, but are responsible for less than 1% of human infections annually. “Campylobacters multiply more slowly than do the usual bacteria of the enteric flora and therefore cannot be isolated from fecal specimens unless selective techniques are used.” Campylobacter is the most isolated bacterial pathogen from persons suffering diarrheal illnesses, and C. jejuni is the most isolated of the species.

Campylobacter jejuni has come to be understood as one of the leading causes of bacterial gastroenteritis. In the United States, these bacteria are the most common cause of bacterial foodborne illness, ahead of Salmonella—the second most common cause. According to the CDC, based on data collected through its Foodborne Disease Active Surveillance Network (or FoodNet), Campylobacter is one of the most common causes of diarrheal illness in the United States. Most cases occur as isolated, sporadic events, not as part of recognized outbreaks. Active surveillance through FoodNet indicates that about 13 cases are diagnosed each year for each 100,000 persons in the population. Many more cases go undiagnosed or unreported, and campylo-bacteriosis is estimated to affect over 2.4 million persons every year, or 0.8% of the population.

In dogs, typical symptoms include watery to mucoid diarrhea, straining, abdominal cramping or pain, lethargy, and fever. The diarrhea may last a week or more and often relapses suddenly after the dog appears to have recovered. Many dogs appear unaffected by campylobacteriosis and the condition is often self-limiting, requiring no medical intervention.Erythromycin or tylosin are the treatments of choice in dogs. Humans can be infected by Campylobacter from their dogs by handling its feces and not properly washing hands or being liked by the dog.

In 2017 the Ohio Department of Health, several other states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) announced that they were investigating a multistate outbreak of human Campylobacter infections linked to puppies sold through Petland, a national pet store chain.

The outbreak included 39 people with laboratory-confirmed Campylobacter infections or symptoms consistent with Campylobacter infection who live in 7 states (Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wisconsin) and were exposed to puppies sold through Petland stores; 12 are Petland employees from four states and 27 either recently purchased a puppy at Petland, visited a Petland, or visited or live in a home with a puppy sold through Petland before illness began.