Parvo or is it Campylobacter?

Campylobacter is a form of food poison. It can be passed from people to dogs and then back to people again. It is also referred to as "Show Crud" as it is very common in show dogs.

This disease is becoming more wide spread. As the winter begins to pass into early spring each year, a new wave of deaths occur from this. And each year, the question comes up again: "Is this a new strain of Parvo?" and each time there are 100 different replies.

This disease is so similar to Parvo, that some dogs have tested in the low positive for Parvo. In most cases they DO NOT have Parvo and it has been recommended that three Parvo tests are needed to exclude Parvo. This disease seems to move from the West to the East through the dog shows.

It is medically known as CAMPYLOBACTERIOSIS, the name of the organism causing this is Campylobacter Jejuni. This disease can be tested for specifically, though some vets don't know about it. Bring it to their attention that you might have an effected dog that appears to have Parvo, but in your mind know that could not be possible, have them tested for Campylobacter. It is important to note that this disease can be transferred between humans, dogs, cats and other livestock. Many vets today are reporting that a cure for Parvo has been established when they actually are treating and curing Campylobacter and don�t realise it.

The Campylobacter Jejuni is a Gram-Negative, slender curved, and motile rod. It is a species of bacteria that resembles small tightly coiled spirals. Its organisms are known to cause abortion in sheep and fever and stomach inflammation in man and may be associated with enteric diseases of calves, lambs and other animals. A genus of bacteria found in the reproductive organs, intestinal tract and oral cavity of animals and man. Some species are pathogenic. It is a microaerophilic organism, which means it has a requirement of reduced levels of oxygen. It is relatively fragile and sensitive to environmental stresses (e.g. 21% oxygen, drying, heating, disinfectants and acidic conditions). It causes more disease than Shigella spp and Salmonella spp combined. (Taken from the US FDA "Bad Bug Book") It is also known as Campylobacter enteritis or gastroenteritis. It can also be diagnosed as Sirochete or Giardia diarrhoea.

TESTING: Diagnosis is direct fecal on a VERY fresh (still warm, so bacteria are still alive) sample, mixed with saline and examined microscopically. There is usually a decrease in normal bacterial numbers and motility. Blood testing will result in the low positive for Parvo. Tests are not conclusive, so if a low Parvo test is shown start treatment immediately!

INCUBATION TIME: Its incubation period is reported to be anywhere from 2 to 10 days.

SYMPTOMS: These can mimic parvo. The diarrhoea does not always have the foul odour. It usually progresses as follows. Begins with mucus-covered solid stools, loose stools, progresses to diarrhoea, profuse diarrhoea, the squirts, depressed appetite with or without vomiting. The diarrhoea may be watery or sticky and can contain (but not always) blood. These symptoms can be minor to severe. Some animals hardly show any symptoms, while others can become fatally dehydrated. Also seen are temperature drops and shock followed by death and all within 12-24 hours. In very young puppies you will hear them cry quite loudly and nothing will comfort them, then respiratory problems occur. Puppies need attention immediately as the fatality rate is high.

SOURCE OF INFECTION: Fecal matter, non-chlorinated water, such as streams, ponds or puddles ' food poisoning from food or from a human who has food poison, even a light case. This disease can also be transmitted to these areas by our common fly, flitting from one host to another. The bacteria is also found in raw or under cooked meat (barfers be aware please) . For all intents and purposes for the Dog Show Crud, it is transmitted in public X-Pens and public elimination areas. Some also say through urine, saliva via contact, or through the air. This bacteria reproduces at a rapid rate.

TREATMENT.As soon as any of the symptoms are seen, see your vet immediately for the proper tests, because the disease progresses so rapidly. Re-hydration may be required within a few hours of the onset. This is the worst scenario. It could be that the dog will have a very mild case and be treated at home with anti-diarrhoeal medication and antibiotics but it is not worth it to take the chance. Most cases are not as drastic/catastrophic, clinically as Parvo if treatment is done in a timely manner. The younger the dog the more serious the case. Drugs for treatment are Tetracycline, Erythromycin and some have had success using Cephalexin.

(In humans you will also see fever, abdominal pain, nausea, headache and muscle pain. This illness usually occurs 2-5 days after ingestion of contaminated food or water and up to 10 days after. Illness generally lasts 7-10 days, but relapses are not uncommon. Most infections are self- limiting and are not treated with antibiotics. However, treatment with Erythromycin does reduce the length of time that infected individuals shed the bacteria in their faeces.)

Many veterinarians have recommended that if you have a dog with diarrhoea, cramping, vomiting, etc., and has been to a dog show, camping, groomer, park, or any public place, or if any one in your family has been ill with diarrhoea or food poison like symptoms, etc., that the dog be seen by your vet as soon as possible to diagnose the problem and treat it accordingly.

(Footnote: If only one dog in your household has been affected ALL dogs in the house should be treated together)

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