Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Food Science and Technology

Major Professor

F. Ann Draughon

Committee Members

Dr. Joseph W. Bartges, Dr. John C. New


With the discovery of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), concerns about dangers of pet ownership have increased. Zoonotic organisms associated with cats and dogs, may cause life-threatening infections in immuosuppressed human beings. The objectives of this project were to determine the prevalence of potential zoonotic enteric pathogens (Salmonella, Listeria, and Campylobacter) in feces of dogs and cats (diarrheic, healthy, and hospitalized), to evaluate the association of diarrhea in dogs and cats with diarrhea in human beings sharing the same household, and to evaluate the antimicrobial susceptibility of Salmonella, Listeria, and E.coli to 18 antimicrobials of human and veterinary importance. Methods of bacterial isolation and identification followed conventional FDA BAM protocols (Bacteriological Analytical Manual). Bacterial isolates were tested for their susceptibility using the disk diffusion assay in accordance with NCCLS guidelines. Owners of pets with diarrhea participating in the study were interviewed using a phone questionnaire that focused on identifying association of diarrhea in human beings living in the same household with affected pets. Salmonella and Campylobacter spp. were isolated from 1 each of 95 dogs having acute or chronic diarrhea (1.1%). Listeria species was isolated from 12 of 353 (3.4%) total dogs and cats. Generic E.coli was isolated from feces in 70.8% of all dogs and cats sampled (250 of 353). E.coli isolated from healthy dogs and cats showed the highest resistance rate to the antibiotics followed by diarrheic dogs and cats. Most E.coli isolates (79.7%) were multidrug resistant (MDR). Imipenem was the only antibiotic which none of the E.coli isolates were resistant to. Listeria spp. isolated from dogs were most resistant to nalidixic acid (88.9%) followed by cefoxitin (77.8%). The low incidence of enteric pathogens in dogs and cats having acute or chronic diarrhea shows that the risk is low for transmission to human beings. However, individuals who are immunocompromised should have animals with acute or chronic diarrhea checked by a veterinarian. High prevalence of MDR bacteria is a serious problem and the search for alternative therapeutic compounds is needed especially for the immunocompromised, infants and elderly people.

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