Background: Campylobacter enteritis was the most frequently notified infectious disease in Australia in 1996 and Campylobacter species have been associated with extra-intestinal infections such as purulent arthritis and Guillian-Barré syndrome. Dogs and cats are known to carry campylobacteria and contact with household pets have been implicated as possible sources of human infection.
Objective: To provide information on the species of campylobacter carried by cats and dogs in South Australia.
Methods: Faecal samples were collected from stray and owned cats and dogs and feral cats. Campylobacter-like organisms were isolated using selective media and filtration methods. They were then characterised by biochemical tests, antibiotic resistance and growth patterns under various conditions. Husbandry factors that could have influenced the carriage rates were examined both as single variables and in a multivariate logistic regression.
Results: Campylobacter upsaliensis and C jejuni were found in 11% and 4% of cats, respectively, whereas 34% dogs carried C upsaliensis, 7% C jejuni and 2% C coli. Intensive housing and open drains were found to be significant risk factors and increased the carriage rate by 2 and 2.6 times, respectively.
Conclusion: Dogs and cats are a potential reservoir for human enteric infections with campylobacters.