What is Campylobacteriosis Infection?
Campylobacteriosis infection is a gastrointestinal disease caused by bacteria of the Campylobacter genus. Infection generally occurs through ingestion and can affect cats, dogs, and other companion animals. The highly infectious bacteria are easily spread and can cause infections in humans as well. Like most intestinal diseases, Campylobacteriosis causes stomach pain and diarrhea. It is common in animals purchased from shelters, and some cats may carry the infection without exhibiting any symptoms. Generally not life-threatening, Campylobacteriosis infection will often be treated on an outpatient basis. Proper cleaning and disinfecting can prevent the spread of the contagion to other pets and people.
Symptoms of Campylobacteriosis Infection in Cats
Campylobacteriosis bacteria cause a gastrointestinal infection with symptoms including pain, digestive issues, and diarrhea. Some cats may not exhibit any symptoms, but are carriers of the disease and can pass it on to other pets and people. Symptoms are often more severe in younger cats or those that are already in poor health. Symptoms can last several days, and intermittent symptoms can continue for several weeks.
- Watery or bile-streaked stool
- Bloody stool
- Tenesmus or frequent stool
- Abdominal pain
- Anorexia or low appetite
- Inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract
- Inflammation of the lymph nodes
There are several types of Campylobacteriosis bacteria that can cause infection. Some are only present in certain types of animals. The most common type that causes intestinal disease in cats is C jejuni. It is also considered one of the most likely to infect human populations. The types of Campylobacteriosis bacteria that can be found in companion animals like cats include:
- C jejuni jejuni
- C coli
- C jejuni
- C upsaliensis
- C helveticus
Causes of Campylobacteriosis Infection in Cats
Campylobacteriosis infection can be transmitted through fecal matter, food, or water infected with the bacteria. Exposure to feces of animals that are infected is the most common cause of infection. This can occur when a new, infected pet is brought into the home or if the pet is exposed to fecal matter in another setting like a kennel or grooming facilities. Ingesting infected food or water can also result in infection. It is suspected that eating undercooked meat or poultry could also be a cause of infection. Younger cats tend to have more severe infections, which may be caused in part by their weaker immune systems.
Diagnosis of Campylobacteriosis Infection in Cats
Your veterinarian will need details about the cat’s condition, symptoms, and how long your pet has been exhibiting symptoms. This information will help them determine if a gastrointestinal infection is present. You should be prepared to provide a stool sample for testing purposes. A Fecal PCR test, also called a fecal culture, is the most common test used to diagnose Campylobacteriosis in cats. The veterinarian will need the stool sample to be fresh and free from litter. It may take a day or two for results to confirm Campylobacteriosis infection. If your pet is not very ill, the veterinarian may wait to prescribe antibiotics until the test results have been received because other conditions may cause similar symptoms.
Treatment of Campylobacteriosis Infection in Cats
Treatment of the disease will depend on the severity of the infection. Some cats will not require any medical treatment to get well. Younger cats are more likely to need medical attention. Your pet may require outpatient or veterinary care depending on a variety of factors.
Antibiotics: Medication to kill the bacterial infection may be prescribed if the cat has severe symptoms or is a suspected source of human infection. Some pets may have an allergic reaction to certain types of antibiotics, so they require close monitoring while being treated.
Intravenous (IV) Fluids: Diarrhea and frequent stool can result in dehydration, which can cause complications. IV fluids will be administered to keep the cat hydrated.
Analgesics: If the cat is experiencing pain and inflammation, this type of painkiller may be administered to control these symptoms. To reduce the risk of potential side effects the dose will be adjusted for your pet’s size.
Push Fluids: Make sure that plenty of water is available to your cat and monitor their consumption. If your pet is not taking in an adequate amount of water, you may need to administer the water to them orally to prevent dehydration.
Isolation: Your veterinarian may recommend isolating the infected cat from other pets to prevent the spread of infection.
Recovery of Campylobacteriosis Infection in Cats
Full recovery from a Campylobacteriosis infection may take several weeks or even months although the worst symptoms generally pass within three to seven days. While symptoms last, monitor the cat’s food and water intake, watch for worsening of symptoms, and promptly remove infected feces from their litter box. This will help ensure your pet’s speedy recovery. Be sure to carefully follow any orders provided by your veterinarian. Your cat may require a follow-up visit to confirm bacteria are no longer present.
Management and prevention will require a thorough cleaning of the cat’s living and eating areas. If there are other pets in the home, it is important to remove them from areas where they may pick up the infection. Because the disease can be easily transmitted to humans, wear appropriate personal protective gear, like gloves or masks, when cleaning and handling infected material. Contaminated areas, like litter boxes and food or water bowls, will need to be disinfected to prevent retransmission of the disease. Deep cleaning should continue until all signs of infection have passed. Routine cleaning and disinfecting can help prevent the spread of bacteria in the future.