Campylobacter causes acute gastroenteritis in people worldwide and is frequently isolated from food, animals and the environment. The disease is predominately food-borne but many routes of transmission and sources of infection have been described, including contact with pets. The prevalence of Campylobacter spp. in dogs and cats varies widely, and data on New Zealand pets are limited. This study aimed to investigate the prevalence of Campylobacter spp. in dogs, cats and retail raw meat pet food products in New Zealand and to characterize Campylobacter jejuni isolates using multilocus sequence typing (MLST). Ninety dogs and 110 cats examined at the Massey University Veterinary Teaching Hospital for elective procedures, and fifty locally purchased retail raw meat pet diets were sampled. Two culture protocols combining Bolton broth enrichment and mCCDA and CAT agars in a microaerobic atmosphere at 42°C and 37°C with species identification using PCR were performed. The prevalence of Campylobacter spp., C. jejuni, Campylobacter upsaliensis and Campylobacter helveticus was 36%, 13%, 23% and 1% in dogs and 16%, 5%, 5% and 7% in cats, respectively. One dog had Campylobacter lari confirmed, and three dogs and one cat had multiple Campylobacter spp. detected. Significantly more animals tested positive using CAT than mCCDA agar (P < 0.001). Being neutered, vaccinated for Bordetella bronchiseptica, fed dry diets and brought in for neutering were protective factors for dogs, whereas attendance for dental treatment was a risk factor for cats. Campylobacter spp. were isolated from 28%, C. jejuni 22%, C. lari 6% and Campylobacter coli 6% of food samples. Six isolates positive by Campylobacter genus PCR were identified as Arcobacter butzleri. Poultry meat was more likely to be positive than non-poultry meat (P = 0.006). Of the 13 C. jejuni pet isolates with full MLST profiles, eight were of different sequence types (ST) and all nine food isolates were of different STs.
Keywords: Arcobacter; Campylobacter; Companion Animals; PCR; microbiological culture; raw diet.
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