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Research Article
Captive Dogs as Reservoirs of Some Zoonotic Bacteria

Maha A. Sabry

Research Journal of Microbiology, 2009, 4(6), 222-228.


The present study is an attempt to clarify the role of captive dogs as a source of some zoonotic bacteria to their contacts or vise versa. Bacteriological examination of fecal swabs evidenced infection by 3 enteric bacteria in attendants, puppies and dogs. Salmonella (20, 33.3 and 41.67%), Campylobacter (13.33, 33.3 and 33.3%) and Enteroinvasive E. coli (46.66, 46.67 and 58.33%). Serotyping of these bacteria revealed presence of S. typhimurium in dogs (60%) and attendants (66.67%), S. enteritidis in one of the worker as well as four untyped strains. Two serotypes of Campylobacter as C. jejuni in two workers and four dogs, C. coli in three dogs, while two untyped isolates were recorded in dogs. Three serotypes of E. coli (O 26, O 76 and O 55) and two untyped strains were isolated from workers and dogs. Moreover two isolates (O 5 and O 111) were diagnosed from dogs only. The isolates showed high sensitivity for Gentamycin (10 μg) and Tetracyclin (30 μg). The study recommended some precautionary measures to minimize the role of captive dogs as a potential source of zoonotic pathogens.

ASCI-ID: 83-334

Table 1) revealed isolation of Enteroinvasive E. coli (EIEC) from 7 human (46.6%), Cambylobacter from two (13.3%) and Sallmonella from three (20.0%) attendants. The study cleared that E. coli infection was associated with diarrhea in four of direct contact workers and only two of other ten non contact workers. Meanwhile, Salmonella and Campylobacter infection were recorded in diarrheic close contact workers only.

On the other hand investigation of captive dogs (Table 2), evidenced infection by E. coli, 46.66 and 58.33% in puppies and adult dogs, respectively. Infection by Salmonella was 33.3 and 41.66% in both groups, respectively and finally infection by Campylobacter was 33.3% in both groups of dogs.

Concerning serotyping of the diagnosed isolates, (Table 3), thirteen Salmonella sub-typed were obtained. This include, S. typhimurium (2 from attendants and 6 from dogs), S. enteritides (one isolate) from human, moreover another (4) as untyped isolates from dogs. Serotyping of eleven Campylobacter isolates revealed detection of C. jejuni (2 from attendants and 4 from dogs), C. coli (3 isolates from dogs) and two untyped species were recorded from dogs also, (Table 4). Twenty one E. coli isolates were affiliated to five sero-groups as O 26 (5), O 76 (3) and O 55 (4) were isolated from both of attendants and dogs as in Table 5.

Table 1: Distribution of different bacteria in the examined attendants
n = No. of examined samples

Table 2: Different bacterial pathogens diagnosed in the examined dogs

Table 3: Serological identification of the isolated Salmonella

Table 4: Serological identification of the isolated Campylobacter

Table 5: Serological identification of the isolated Enteroinvasive E. coli

Table 6: Antibiotic sensitivity of the isolated bacteria from human and dogs

Another serotypes as O 5 (2), O 111 (3) and four un-typed isolates were identified from dogs only as described in Table 5.

Sensitivity of different isolates was tested versus 8 antibiotic enriched disks (Table 6). The tested isolates showing high sensitivity for each of Gentamycine (10 μg) and Tetracycline (30 μg). Sensitivity percentage for the tested E. coli (21 isolates) was reached to 90.48 and 85.71%, for Campylobacter (11 isolates) was 90.9 and 90.9%, while it was 92.37 and 92.37% for Salmonella (13 isolates) versus the two previous mentioned antibiotic, respectively.


Zoonotic organisms such as viruses, bacteria or parasites can possess the potential role to cause severe diseases in both humans and animals. Free-ranging animals with sporadic or indirect contact to domestic livestock and humans may serve as reservoirs or sentinels for diseases (Aschfalk and Holler, 2006). So that continuous contact between diseased or carrier dogs and their workers under non proper hygienic measures initiate development of endemic foci for spreading of different pathogens, specially zoonotic one that have direct life cycle (Pullola et al., 2006).

In the present study bacteriological examination of workers stool samples revealed isolation of Enteroinvasive E. coli (EIEC) from human (46.6%), Cambylobacter (13.3%) and Sallmonella (20.0%). E. coli infection was associated with diarrhea. Diarrhea was observed in most of the direct contact workers and in a few of the non contact one. Meanwhile, Salmonella and Campylobacter infection were detected in diarrheic close contact workers only. These findings support the suggestion that the diagnosed symptoms in morbid cases consider as infection by these bacteria (Salmonella, Campylobacter and EIEC). This was agreed with Batt (2002) as these pathogens have been clearly associated with acute and chronic disease, typically causing diarrhea combined with tenesmus, vomiting, in-appetence, malaise, lethargy and abdominal pain are more variably encountered. These findings were at variance to those of Wierzba et al. (2006), who claimed that E. coli infection was not associated with diarrhea. This discrepancy could be related to the level of infection as well as the serotype of the diagnosed E. coli.

Concerning distribution of these pathogens in the examined dogs, infection by E. coli was ranged between 46.66 to 58.33%, by Salmonella was 33.3 to 41.66% and by Campylobacter was 33.3% in puppies and adult dogs, respectively. The infection was associated with diarrhea in 3 puppies only. These results were similar to those described by Hall and Simpson (2000) as Salmonella sp., Campylobacter sp. and EIEC were the main enteropathogens that most commonly identified in dogs. The isolated pathogens could be considered as the direct cause of the recorded diarrhea as previously mentioned by Brook (2006), but appearance or disappearance of these diarrhea may be affected by severity of infection, age as well as the general health conditions of the affected dogs. Brook (2006) asserted that there was relatively little information about the prevalence of pathogenic E. coli in dogs, but there was good evidence that they might play a role in the pathogenesis for both acute and chronic diarrhea. While Campylobacter sp. causing diarrhea in dogs, cats and humans especially in young. Moreover, the adult animals commonly have Campylobacter organisms living in their intestines but they do not experience any sickness due to it, while dogs can infect people whether they have diarrhea or not. In the present study, captive conditions of these dogs can act as stress factor led to occurrence of this diarrhea, this was agreed with Batt (2002). It has been estimated that the isolation of the same pathogens from the contact human evidenced that they are mainly originated from these dogs. This finding came in agreement with that of Hall (2004).

Concerning serotyping of the diagnosed Salmonella isolates, S. typhimurium were isolated from attendants and dogs, S. enteritides were recorded in attendants, while 4 untyped isolates were diagnosed from dogs. Campylobacter isolates include C. jejuni which diagnosed from attendants and dogs, while isolates of C. coli and two untyped species were diagnosed fom dogs only. Concerning the distribution of E. coli isolates, the serotypes of O 26 , O 76 and O 55 were identified from attendants and dogs while O 5 , O 111 and four un-typed isolates were diagnosed from dogs only. Diagnoses of the same serotype from attendants and their contact dogs explained the level of cross transmission between both of them. S. typhimurium and S. enteritides are known as more common in animals as well as causing human food poisoning. Most human cases of Salmonella infection cause fever, diarrhea and cramping that go away on their own. The disease is more severe in children, puppies and kittens (Brook, 2006). Likewise, C. jejuni is a major cause of infectious enteritis in human (Abdel-Aty and Rabie, 2003) and exposure to dogs with diarrhea will be triples a person's risk for developing enteritis from C. jejuni or C. coli (Brook, 2006). The number of bacterial genera isolated from the infected attendants and dogs in the present study considered to be few in comparison with that diagnosed in water by Abo-Amer et al. (2008) and Fareed et al. (2008) or that isolated from diarrheic children in Egypt by Wierzba et al. (2006). This difference explained that infection in the present study could be originate from local contamination for boxes of these dogs, as if this infection is originated from water supply, the problem can be recorded in peoples other than dog attendants.

It should be noted that persistence of infection around dogs was affected by survival time of each pathogen. Campylobacter can survive for days in surface water and as long as 4 weeks in feces; in addition, the duration of excretion in infected dogs can be as long as 4 months (Hall, 2004). Salmonella organisms are very difficult to remove from the environment, it easily to survive for 3 months in aquatic environments and in soil, shedding may continue for 3 to 6 weeks and can be reactivated at a later date by any inter-current stress, (Brook, 2006).

The tested isolates showing sensitivity for each of Gentamycine (10 μg) and Tetracycline (30 μg) enriched disks. According to Thompson and Roberts (2001), treatment of animals considered to be one of the fastest ways for eradication of different pathogens, the study advised to treat the morbid animal cases by Gentamycine 5 mg kg-1 b.wt., orally for 5 consecutive days (Schering-Plough Animal Health USA) with intravenous fluid therapy especially for puppies..

It has been estimated that captivity condition act as stress factor depress the host resistance and increase their susceptibility to infection and spread new pathogens. In the authors opinion, captivating of dogs under condition of the present study initiate development of endemic foci, as the infective stages were disseminated from infected dogs, in suitable conditions of dust, shad and moisture, these led to its propagation and persistence in the nature especially in and around the animal boxes so do potential zoonotic risks.

The study concluded that, captive dogs waiting for experimental studies must be thoroughly examined for all suspected pathogens, kept under strict hygienic measures and still under continuous observation along they remained in contact to human. Animal workers must be educated about transmission of different diseases. Moreover, they must be trained about how can they protect themselves from infection? In animal boxes, cleaning and disinfecting methods must be regularly applied inside and outside these boxes and completely separated from the surrounding area as well as it should be protect from rodents and vectors.


The author expresses great appreciation for Prof. Dr. El-Seedy.F.R. Prof. of Microbiology and Vice-Dean of College of Veterinary Medicine, Beni-Suef University for his great effort revising this study.

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