Colonisation of pet shop puppies with Brachyspira pilosicoli

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-174
Journal / PublicationVeterinary Microbiology
Issue number2
Online published25 Feb 2003
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2003
Externally publishedYes


Anaerobic intestinal spirochaetes of the genus Brachyspira are known to colonise dogs, but relatively little is known about their prevalence, distribution or pathogenic potential. One species, Brachyspira pilosicoli, is thought to cause diarrhoea in dogs, as well as in other animals and humans. To investigate the prevalence and distribution of infection, faecal samples from 49 puppies from six pet shops in the suburbs of Perth, Western Australia were subjected to selective culture for anaerobic intestinal spirochaetes. Growth from the primary plates was also harvested, the DNA extracted and a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of a portion of the 16S rRNA gene of B. pilosicoli applied. Weakly beta-haemolytic intestinal spirochaetes (WBHIS) grew on plates from 20 of the dogs (40.8%). Seven plates (14.2%) yielded PCR positive amplification for B. pilosicoli. Seven WBHIS isolates were obtained in pure culture, and two of these were shown to be B. pilosicoli by PCR. Application of multilocus enzyme electrophoresis to the seven isolates confirmed that the two PCR positive isolates were B. pilosicoli, whilst the other five belonged to a group previously designated “Brachyspira canis”. All the “B. canis” isolates came from healthy puppies, suggesting that this WBHIS is a commensal. Three of the seven puppies with PCR evidence of B. pilosicoli had diarrhoea, but the sample size was small and the association between colonisation and diarrhoea was not statistically significant. Pet shop puppies are commonly infected with intestinal spirochaetes, and may act as a reservoir of B. pilosicoli for other animals and humans.

Research Area(s)

  • "Brachyspira canis", Brachyspira pilosicoli, Diarrhoea, Dog, Zoonosis