Animal contact was responsible for transmission of
multiple major enteric pathogens among US residents, with Campylobacter,
Cryptosporidium and nontyphoidal Salmonella species as the
leading causes of illness, according to CDC researchers.
Data were pooled from the US Foodborne Diseases Active
Surveillance Network and other sources to estimate the number of enteric
illnesses that were attributed to animal contact. Seven pathogens were
evaluated: Campylobacter species, Cryptosporidium species, Shiga
toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157, STEC non-O157, Listeria
monocytogenes, nontyphoidal Salmonella species and Yersinia
The researchers found that approximately 14% of all
enteric illnesses caused by these pathogens may be attributed to animal
contact, which translates to 445,213 illnesses annually for the seven groups
combined. Campylobacter species caused 42% of the illnesses attributable
to animal contact, translating to 187,481 illnesses annually.
Of the illnesses attributed to animal contact,
nontyphoidal Salmonella species caused 127,155 illnesses,
Cryptosporidium species caused 113,344 illnesses, STEC non-O517 caused
10,097 illnesses and STEC O517 caused 5,960 illnesses. A small proportion of
animal contact-related illnesses were caused by L. monocytogenes and
Illnesses attributed to animal contact resulted in
approximately 4,933 hospitalizations and 76 deaths. The leading cause of
hospitalization was nontyphoidal Salmonella species, followed by
Campylobacter species and Cryptosporidium species.
The estimates of illnesses, hospitalizations and
deaths attributed to animal contact transmission emphasize the need to
implement interventions and educational programs, the researchers wrote.
Illnesses can be prevented by educating the public and occupational
workers about potential risks and by ensuring that interventions are in public
places where persons come into contact with animals.
Hale CR. Clin Infect Dis. 2012;54:S472-S479.
The researchers report no relevant financial