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Volume 18, Number 12—December 2012
Peer Reviewed Report Available Online Only

Surveillance of Zoonotic Infectious Disease Transmitted by Small Companion Animals

Michael J. DayComments to Author , Edward Breitschwerdt, Sarah Cleaveland, Umesh Karkare, Chand Khanna, Jolle Kirpensteijn, Thijs Kuiken, Michael R. Lappin, Jennifer McQuiston, Elizabeth Mumford, Tanya Myers, Clarisa B. Palatnik-de-Sousa, Carol Rubin, Gregg Takashima, and Alex Thiermann
Author affiliations: Author affiliations: University of Bristol, Langford, UK (M.J. Day); North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA (E. Breitschwerdt); University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK (S. Cleaveland); Mumbai, India (U. Karkare); National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, USA (C. Khanna); Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands (J. Kirpensteijn); Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, the Netherlands (T. Kuiken); Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA (M.R. Lappin); Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA (J. McQuiston, T. Myers, C. Rubin); World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland (E. Mumford); Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (C.B. Palatnik-de-Sousa); Portland, Oregon, USA (G. Takashima); World Organisation for Animal Health, Paris, France (A. Thiermann)

Main Article


Selected zoonotic infectious diseases of dogs and cats*

Route of human exposure Agent Principal clinical syndromes Human surveillance mechanisms
Bites, scratches, or contact with exudates Bartonella spp.† (bacteria) Cats and dogs: subclinical fever, hyperglobulinemia, endocarditis, myocarditis, epistaxis, granulomatous rhinitis, uveitis, lymphadenopathy; humans: fever, malaise, endocarditis, myocarditis, meningitis, encephalopathy, lymphadenopathy, pulmonary granulomata, neuroretinitis, bacillary angiomatosis, bacillary peliosis None
Capnocytophaga canimorsus (bacterium) Cats and dogs: subclinical oral carriage; humans: bacteremia None
Francisella tularensis‡ (bacterium) Cats: septicemia, pneumonia; humans: ulceroglandular, oculoglandular, glandular, pneumonic or typhoidal (depending on route of inoculation) NNDSS
Staphylococcus spp.§ (methicillin resistant) (bacterium) Cats, dogs, and humans: subclinical cutaneous infections, bacteremia None
Yersinia pestis‡ (bacterium) Cats and humans: bubonic, bacteremic, or pneumonic (depending on route of inoculation and success of initial therapy) IHR (pneumonic only), NNDSS
Rabies (virus) Cats, dogs, and humans: progressive CNS disease NNDSS, WAHID
Dermatophytes (fungi) Cats and dogs: superficial dermatologic disease; humans: superficial dermatologic disease and deep tissue infections in immunocompromised patients None
Sporothrix schenkii‡ (fungus) Cats and humans: draining cutaneous tracts None
Contact with infected feces (ingestion unless otherwise indicated) Campylobacter jejuni and C. coli (bacteria) Cats, dogs, and humans: diarrhea and vomiting WAHID, FoodNet
Escherichia coli (bacterium) Cats, dogs, and humans: diarrhea and vomiting WAHID (STEC), NNDSS (STEC), FoodNet (STEC)
Salmonella spp. (bacterium) Cats, dogs, and humans: diarrhea and vomiting WAHID, NNDS, FoodNet
Helicobacter spp.¶ (bacterium) Cats and dogs: vomiting; humans: reflux disease and vomiting None
Yersinia enterocolitica (bacterium) Cats and dogs: subclinical infection or abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea; humans: diarrhea and vomiting FoodNet
Entamoeba histolytica# (ameba) Dogs and humans: diarrhea and vomiting None
Ancylostoma braziliense, Uncinaria stenocephala, A. caninum (dog only) and A. tubaeforme (cat only)** (hookworms) Cats and dogs: blood-loss anemia, diarrhea, unthrifty; humans: cutaneous larva migrans, eosinophilic enteritis None
Baylisascaris procyonis (roundworm) Dogs: failure to thrive; humans: visceral larva migrans, CNS disease None
Toxocara canis (dogs) and T. cati (cats)†† (roundworms) Cats and dogs: vomiting, diarrhea, failure to thrive; humans: ocular and visceral larva migrans None
Strongyloides stercoralis‡‡ (threadworm) Cats and dogs: bloody diarrhea, blood-loss anemia, failure to thrive; humans: polysystemic disease None
Echinococcus multilocularis (cestode) Cats and dogs: subclinical infection; humans: polysystemic hydatid disease WAHID
Echinococcus granulosus (cestode) Dogs: subclinical infection; humans polysystemic disease WAHID
Cryptosporidium spp.§§ (coccidian) Cats, dogs, and humans: diarrhea and vomiting NNDSS, FoodNet, CryptoNet
Toxoplasma gondii¶¶ (coccidian) Cats: rarely diarrhea, polysystemic disease; dogs: neuromuscular and rarely polysystemic disease; humans: occular, CNS, and polysystemic disease WAHID
Giardia spp.## (flagellate) Cats, dogs, and humans: diarrhea and vomiting NNDSS
Contact with infected respiratory or ocular secretions Bordetella bronchiseptica (bacterium) Cats and dogs: sneezing and coughing; humans: pneumonia in immunosuppressed patients None
Chlamydophila felis (bacterium) Cats: conjunctivitis, sneezing; humans: conjunctivitis None
F. tularensis*** (bacterium) Cats: septicemia, pneumonia; humans: ulceroglandular, oculoglandular, glandular, pneumonic or typhoidal (depending on route of infection) None
Streptococcus group A (bacterium) Cats and dogs: subclinical transient carrier; humans: strep throat, septicemia None
Y. pestis*** (bacterium) Same as entry under bites, scratches, or contact with exudates None
Influenza A virus Cats and dogs: respiratory disease, systemic disease; humans: respiratory disease WHO Global Influenza Program
Contact with infected genital secretions Brucella canis††† (bacterium) Dogs: orchitis, epididymitis, abortion, stillbirth, vaginal discharge, uveitis, fever; humans: fever, arthralgia, headache, fatigue, myalgia, weight loss, arthritis/spondylitis, meningitis or focal organ involvement (endocarditis, orchitis/epididymitis, hepatomegaly, splenomegaly) WAHID, NNDSS
Coxiella burnetti*** (rickettsia) Cats: subclinical, abortion or stillbirth; humans: fever, pneumonitis, lymphadenopathy, myalgia, arthritis NNDSS
Contact with infected urine Leptospira spp.(bacteria) Dogs: fever, vomiting, pulmonary hemorrhage, renal and hepatic dysfunction, encephalopathy, uveitis; humans: fever, headache, myalgia, meningitis, pulmonary/hepatic and renal dysfunction, hemorrhagic complications WAHID, some U.S. states
Flea-borne Bartonella spp.† (bacterium) Same as entry under bites, scratches, and contact with exudates None
Y. pestis (bacterium) Same as entry under bites, scratches, and contact with exudates None
Rickettsia felis (rickettsia) Cats: subclinical, fever; humans: fever, CNS disease None
Rickettsia typhi (rickettsia) Cats: subclinical; humans: fever, polysystemic disease None
Tick-borne‡‡‡ Borrelia burgdorferi (bacterium) Dogs: subclinical infection, fever, polyarthritis, nephropathy; humans: polyarthropathy, cardiac and CNS disease NNDSS
Anaplasma phagocytophilium (rickettsia) Cats and dogs: fever, polyarthritis; humans: fever, polysystemic disease NNDSS
Ehrlichia spp. (rickettsia) Dogs: subclinical infection, fever, polysystemic disease; humans: fever, polysystemic disease NNDSS
Rickettsia rickettsii (rickettsia) Dogs: subclinical infection, fever, polysystemic disease; humans: fever, polysystemic disease NNDSS
Sandfly-borne Leishmania infantum and L. chagasi (protozoa) Cats and dogs: cutaneous lesions and polysystemic disease; humans: polysystemic (visceral) disease None

*NNDSS, Nationally Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System; IHR, International Health Regulations (require report to WHO); Unthrifty, failure to grow or develop normally because of disease; CNS, central nervous system; WAHID, World Animal Health Information Database; STEC, Shiga-toxigenic Escherichia coli; WHO, World Health Organization. Further information on zoonoses of dogs and cats is available (,,, and
B. henselae, B. koehlerae, and B. clarridgeiae are transmitted among cats by Ctenocephalides felis fleas and B. vinsonii subsp. subsp. berkhoffii, B. vinsonii subsp. aurpensis, B. washoensis, B. elizabethae, B. clarridgeiae, and B. quintana are transmitted among dogs by C. felis, C. canis, and Oropsylla montana fleas and are also listed under flea-borne disease. There are other Bartonella spp. with zoonotic implications. Cats generally show development of a higher level of bacteremia than dogs and are epidemiologically linked more frequently to human disease. The vector is unknown for some Bartonella spp.
‡Dogs rarely shed enough organisms to be a public health risk.
§Both Staphylococcus aureus and S. pseudintermedius have been implicated as zoonotic.
¶Most Helicobacter spp. found in cats and dogs are host-adapted species. When H. pylori is detected in a cat or dog, it is likely from reverse zoonotic transmission.
#Infection of dogs in the United States is believed to be rare.
**A. caninum is the species most commonly linked to enteritis in humans.
††Eggs require a larvation period in the environment to be infectious. Thus, direct transmission is less likely than exposure through environmental contamination.
‡‡Transmission is primarily by larval penetration of skin.
§§Most humans are infected by C. hominus or C. parvum, and most cats and dogs are infected by C. felis or C. canis, respectively. These host-adapted species are less commonly identified in human feces, and information concerning disease associations with infection is limited.
¶¶Sporulation of oocysts occurs after passage into the environment; oocysts are environmentally resistant and it is estimated that only 1% of cats shed oocysts at any time. Thus, direct transmission is less likely than exposure through environmental contamination.
##Host-adapted and zoonotic assemblages exist. Cats and dogs can harbor zoonotic assemblages, but whether levels of infection result in reinfection of humans is not established.
***Can also be vector-borne.
†††Brucella spp. transmission from dogs to humans is by direct or indirect exposure of organism to broken skin/mucous membranes by infected aborted fetuses, placental fluid, tissues, and semen.
‡‡‡Borrelia spp. DNA has been amplified from some ticks, but the extent of the role that ticks play in the transmission of these agents has not been fully ascertained.

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Page created: November 19, 2012
Page updated: November 19, 2012
Page reviewed: November 19, 2012
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