Objectives - To determine associations among infectious pathogens and diarrheal disease in dogs in an animal shelter and demonstrate the use of geographic information systems (GISs) for tracking spatial distributions of diarrheal disease within shelters. Sample population - Feces from 120 dogs. Procedure - Fresh fecal specimens were screened for bacteria and bacterial toxins via bacteriologic culture and ELISA, parvovirus via ELISA, canine coronavirus via nested polymerase chain reaction assay, protozoal cysts and oocysts via a direct fluorescent antibody technique, and parasite ova and larvae via microscopic examination of direct wet mounts and zinc sulfate centrifugation flotation. Results - Salmonella enterica and Brachyspira spp were not common, whereas other pathogens such as canine coronavirus and Helicobacter spp were common among the dogs that were surveyed. Only intestinal parasites and Campylobacter jejuni infection were significant risk factors for diarrhea by univariate odds ratio analysis. Giardia lamblia was significantly underestimated by fecal flotation, compared with a direct fluorescent antibody technique. Spatial analysis of case specimens by use of GIS indicated that diarrhea was widespread throughout the entire shelter, and spatial statistical analysis revealed no evidence of spatial clustering of case specimens. Conclusions and clinical relevance - This study provided an epidemiologic overview of diarrhea and interacting diarrhea-associated pathogens in a densely housed, highly predisposed shelter population of dogs. Several of the approaches used in this study, such as use of a spatial representation of case specimens and considering multiple etiologies simultaneously, were novel and illustrate an integrated approach to epidemiologic investigations in shelter populations.
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