Salmonella and Campylobacter jejuni are the two most common known causes of food-borne human gastrointestinal disease. Both of these microbes are often present in raw meats – especially in raw poultry.
Dogs and cats can carry these bacteria – often without showing any symptoms – and can pass these pathogens along to their human companions. To illustrate, the following is just a very small sampling of reported cases.
1. Wright, J.G., et al. 2005. Multidrug-resistant Salmonella Typhimurium in four animal facilities. Emerging Infectious Diseases, vol. 11, no. 8, pp. 1235-1241.
Salmonella-infected dogs and cats in 3 veterinary hospitals and in one animal shelter transmitted the infection to their handlers. Thirty-six out of 200+ animals and 18 out of 19 people (employees and clients of these facilities) were infected with Salmonella.
2. Sato, Y., and R. Kuwamoto. 1999. A case of canine salmonellosis due to Salmonella infantis. Journal of Veterinary Medical Science, vol. 61, no. 1, pp. 71-72.
A dog with watery diarrhea was diagnosed as being infected with Salmonella infantis. Soil samples taken from the garden in which the dog had been housed before it became ill also contained Salmonella infantis. The dog was treated with antibiotics and recovered.
3. Sato, Y., et al. 2000. Salmonella virchow infection in an infant infected by household dogs. Journal of Veterinary Medical Science, vol. 62, no. 7, pp. 767-769.
A 4 month-old infant, who was suffering from diarrhea, was diagnosed with salmonellosis. Salmonella virchow was found in the infant’s stool and in the feces of two of the three dogs that were living in the same house.
4. Cantor, G.H., et al. 1997. Salmonella shedding in racing sled dogs. Journal of Veterinary Diagnosis and Investigation, vol. 9, pp. 447-448.
Dogs can carry Salmonella without showing any signs of illness. In this study, Salmonella was found in the feces of 19 out of 30 sled dogs that were suffering from diarrhea, and from 18 out of 26 sled dogs that appeared perfectly healthy.
5. Koene, M.G.J., et al. 2004. Simultaneous presence of multiple Campylobacter species in dogs. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, vol. 42, no. 2, pp. 819-821.
Campylobacter jejuni, a human pathogen, was found in the feces of 12 dogs out of a group of thirty. Most of the 30 dogs showed no symptoms of infection.
6. Damborg, P., et al. 2004. Occurrence of Campylobacter jejuni in pets living with human patients infected with C. jejuni. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, vol. 42, no. 3, pp. 1363-1364.
Forty-five pet owners who were suffering from Campylobacter jejuni infection participated in a study of their pets. Eight of their pets - 4 dogs and 4 cats - were carriers of the same species of Campylobacter. In one case, the DNA fingerprint of the Campylobacter isolated from the human patient and the pet were identical.
7. Morse, E.V., et al. 1976. Canine salmonellosis: a review and report of dog to child transmission of Salmonella enteritidis. American Journal of Public Health, vol. 66, no. 1, pp. 82-84.
A dog became infected with Salmonella after drinking contaminated chicken broth, and experienced vomiting and diarrhea. A 16-month old child came into contact with the sick dog and developed a severe case of salmonellosis, requiring hospital treatment.
Reports such as these show conclusively that dogs and cats are able to carry and transmit harmful bacteria. Sometimes, the animals suffer from diarrhea or vomiting; sometimes, they show no apparent signs of illness. Either way, the Salmonella or Campylobacter that may be in your dog or cat’s feces or vomit can end up infecting you, a family member, or a friend.
Watch for Part 4 of this series, “What’s In It For Fido?”, which will appear on Saturday, March 15th.