Campylobacteriosis in Cats

Campylobacteriosis, also known as Campybacter or Campy is a highly contagious intestinal infection caused by the Campylobacter jejuni bacterium (Campylobacter spp.). It is one of the leading causes of vomiting and diarrhea in companion pets. It is believed that over 25% pets are known to get affected. These are spiral shaped, micro-aerobic, gram-negative bacteria which affects the gastrointestinal tract (GI).

Campylobacteriosis causing bacteria thrives in environments which lacks basic hygiene and sanitation. It can survive for long periods in feces, milk, water and urine. It can remain dormant but is re-activated when ingested.

Primary mode of transmission is fecal-oral route, mainly by contaminated food and water. Infected meat (eg: chicken, beef, fish, pork) and unpasteurized milk are other sources of infection.

Once ingested, Campybacter bacteria initially colonizes the digestive system and the effects are almost immediate. Affected pets will exhibit fever, weakness, fatigue, diarrhea with mucus.

Campylobacteriosis has a global distribution, it is present everywhere. It affects a variety of animals such as domestic animals, farm animals, poultry birds, aquatic animals and wildlife.

Pets with developing immunity (kittens and younger cats), cats with weakened immunity from existing infections and medical conditions, senior cats with lower resistance are prone to this infection. Concurrent infection with Giardia, Corona-virus, Salmonella is common.

Campylobacteriosis is a ZOONOTIC disease, which means humans can easily get infected.


Campylobacteriosis is caused by Campylobacter jejuni bacteria. Primary mode of transmission is Fecal-oral route. Infected meat (scavenging, raw, uncooked) and unpasteurized milk, urine contamination are other sources of infection.

Clinical Signs & Symptoms

Once Campylobacteriosis enters the body, it colonizes the digestive system. The incubation period is between 2 to 5 days. The severity of the infection depends on the age of the pet and the immunity system response to ward off the bacteria. Common symptoms seen are:

› Pyrexia (Fever)
› Anorexia (Loss of Appetite)
› weight Loss
› Weakness
› Gastroenteritis (Vomiting and Diarrhea)
› Diarrhea (Loose stools) sometimes with blood
› Vomiting
› Mucus in stool
› Dehydration


Veterinarians will require a complete history of your cat which includes medical history, vaccination records, existing health concerns, current and previous medications, onset of symptoms, diet and exercise routine and any information which can help in establishing a correct diagnosis. Diagnosis is done with a combination of tests. These include routine lab examinations and special tests which can detect the presence of the parasite. They are:

› Complete Blood Count (CBC)
› Physical examination
› Bacterial culture test
› Serology Tests
› Microscopic examination
› Fecal Examination
› Urinalysis


Treatment focuses on eradicating the bacteria from the body and minimizing the affects caused. Post successful treatments pets will remain infected for months and will continue to have occasional bouts of diarrhea.

Treatment includes:
› Anti-parasitic medications
› Antibiotic medications
› Drugs to treat secondary illnesses and diseases
› Medications to control vomiting and diarrhea
› IV Fluids
› Fluid therapy (in-case of dehydration)
› Dietary changes (diet containing high fiber)

Severe cases may require hospitalization.


The best way to prevent your cat from getting infected is to avoid consuming raw meat, Restricting your pet indoors, away from possible sources of contamination.

Home Care

Home care should aim at improving the condition. Treatments can take a few days to weeks, depending on the severity. If you observe any behavioral changes, or if the condition does not improve, please contact your veterinarian.

Prognosis is good. Most pets are treated on an outpatient basis.

› It is mandatory to provide a stress-free environment for your cat. Keep water and food bowls within reach. Avoid physical activity. Keep your cats away from any noise and commotions.
› You have to administer and monitor all prescribed medicine as directed by your veterinarian.
› Do NOT travel with your cat.
› Do NOT allow your cat to roam freely. This works two ways, firstly if the cat is infected, it greatly reduces the chances of risk of exposure to other pets and humans and secondly in-case of a healthy pet, it reduces the chances of contracting the infection.
› Use of environmental disinfectants is recommended. Prompt disposal of any and all materials after use is suggested.
› Routine and regular checkups to access the progress, further tests may be advised this includes Liver and kidney function tests, blood tests. Monitor and administer all medications as directed by your veterinarian and complete the dosage.
› Humans, especially children, pregnant women and ones handling infected pets need to exercise caution. Wear gloves when dealing with a pet, cleaning the litter boxes, disposing any and all contaminated materials, garbage disposals etc. A thorough wash of hands is advised. Practice hygiene. Campylobacteriosis is ZOONOTIC and over 45% humans get affected from an infected pet.
› Prevent pets from consuming raw contaminated meat (especially fish, poultry birds, beef, pork).

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