Campylobacteriosis – Frustrating and Costly to Deal With!

Campylobacteriosis is an infectious diarrheal disease that can affect both animals and people. Campylobacter is the bacteria that is responsible for the disease, and it can be found in the intestinal tracts of animals worldwide.

TRANSMISSION

The bacteria is shed in the feces of infected and asymptomatic carrier animals. The most common way campylobacter is transmitted is by ingesting feces-contaminated food or water. Campylobacter can also be easily spread through raw meats, especially chicken.

Puppies or kittens under six months of age are the most susceptible. Dogs and cats over 6 months are quite resistant and may become asymptomatic carriers, keeping the organism in the cattery or kennel.

CLINICAL PICTURE

Neonates often break with the disease in the weaning period or shortly after arriving at a rescue or kennel. While adults often don't show symptoms of the disease, younger dogs more generally show clinical signs.

Clinical signs can include vomiting and watery diarrhea that contains mucus and sometimes blood. Other possible symptoms include cramping, abdominal pain and fever.

In humans, Campylobacteriosis is one of the most common causes of diarrheal illness in the United States. The best prevention is hand washing with soap and water.

TREATMENT

There are different treatments that have shown varying amounts of success. It is important to keep animals on medication for a minimum of 21 days to clear Campylobacteriosis - we don't want to create carriers by stopping treatment too early. In addition to treatment, electrolytes are especially important with any diarrhea to prevent dehydration. Probiotics have also helped speed recovery.
  • Antibiotics such as Azithromycin (Zithromax®) or erythromycin are the best choice for eliminating the symptoms if it's given early in the illness.
  • Cephalexin at 15 mg/lb twice daily has also been used successfully.
  • Tylosin (Tylan®) at 10 mg/lb can be given orally twice daily or mixed in water, using it as the only water source (Plumb).
  • Probiotics have been helpful in the prevention and treatment of puppies. Kennels have used probiotics in mom 30 days before whelping and after whelping. It has shown benefits in eliminating the carrier moms from transferring the disease to puppies.

WHOLE KENNEL TREATMENT

We need to remember there are carriers in the kennel or cattery that are seeding the bacteria to the neonates. In treating the whole kennel, we can target the asymptomatic carriers and eliminate the bacteria out of the kennel.
  • Tylan or lincomycin can be used in the nursery or whelping area. Both can be used in a self-medicator for automatic watering systems or added to water bowls.
  • Tetracycline in the water of non-pregnant adults has been tried, but monitoring is necessary as resistance is quickly seen. Never use tetracycline in neonates or pregnant moms as it will stain the non-erupted teeth brown.

PREVENTION

Prevention includes not feeding animals raw or undercooked meat. You should isolate any animal that shows signs of the disease, and always keep food and water bowls clean. We don't want the food and water to become contaminated or the disease will spread.

By understanding the disease and eliminating it from the adult carriers, we can control new cases in future puppies or kittens - the goal is no treatment in the next litter!


If you need help, call us at 1-800-786-4751.

-Dr. B
Don Bramlage, DVM, Director of Veterinary Services at Revival Animal Health

The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of a qualified veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.

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