As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up on a farm. We raised beef cows, capons (neutered male chickens) and grew cash crops (wheat, corn, soya beans, etc). As any good animal loving country girl can probably attest, you can make a pet out of virtually any animal. Some of my favorites were Joy our Jersey who, while a cow, we rode like a horse; there was also Cookie the Capon, Miss Piggy, Herman and Hersey (also cows), Rainbow my thoroughbred horse, Pursey my albino rabbit, Mr. Boots my Dutch belted rabbit, Sparky a very vocal guinea pig and of course we always had a dog or two and lots and lots of cats. I played in our barns, I’ve mucked my fair share of stalls and yes, I’ve been known to get into manure fights while mucking stalls. I’m pretty sure at some point in my life I’ve eaten poop – unknowingly of course, but I’m sure it’s had to have happened.
While acknowledging in a public forum that I’ve eaten poop, what I can say is that when coming in from the barn I always washed my hands. I washed my hands after playing with our pets, before eating, and I NEVER let any of our animals lick my face or kiss them in any close vicinity to their tongues. How many of you can say the same? Not to shame you if you have, but GROSS!!!! Do you know where those mouths and those tongues have been?
We often talk about Swine or Avian Influenza and Salmonella as common zoonotic diseases. Certainly, we need only go back a few weeks to my “Fall Fair Fun” blog to read about transmission of pathogens from animals to humans. Only a few weeks ago there was yet another Salmonella outbreak associated with pet turtles (I talked about that in my “Pet Turtles Pose Health Problems” blog back in 2015). I think we’ve come to understand that farm animals (and pet turtles) can spread disease but what about adorable, cute, cuddly and wet tongued puppies?
Well….those darn adorable puppies can also be the cause of outbreaks. In fact, the CDC is currently investigating a multi-state Campylobacter outbreak in people that have been linked to puppies purchased from a chain of pet stores. At least 39 people across 7 states have been identified and the cause has been linked to puppies sold by a chain of pet stores based in Ohio. Of the 39 people, 12 are employees while the remaining 27 have been directly linked to either purchasing a puppy from the store or visited the store. The CDC does not yet know the exact cause of the outbreak and it may be difficult to ever pinpoint the exact cause.
Campylobacter itself is a bacterium that can infect dogs, cats and humans. There are a number of different strains of Campylobacter that can be found in many of our food production animals so it is most frequently linked to eating raw or undercooked meat. Typical symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pains and fever that can last for about a week. Person to person transmission is rare, but transmission from exposure to dog feces is possible. Washing your hands after handling poop and after touching your dog is recommended – I would hazard a guess that’s not realistic for many dog lovers! While the CDC does not call it out, letting your dog lick you or kissing on the mouth should also be avoided….dogs do clean themselves down there you know!
P.S. Next week it will be a toss-up between a study about how alcohol fixes soil to medical devices or a study on bleach causing COPD. If you have a preference tweet and let me know!