Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence

Memorandum by the Pet Health Council


  The Pet Health Council (PHC) has a panel of veterinary and medical experts whose aim it is to offer advice to current and potential pet owners on caring for pets and being a responsible pet owner. We therefore welcome any new research which examines pet health in the interests of both pets and humans.

  The Pet Health Council is concerned about the research findings revealed by Professor Hugh Pennington, which allege that the increase in Campylobacter infections is due to the presence of dogs. PHC urges members of the public not to be alarmed by these findings. Indeed, Professor Pennington has acknowledged that techniques still need to be developed to specifically trace the source of each Campylobacter infection.

  The suggestion that simply stroking a pet can cause the infection to pass to humans is incorrect. Campylobacter organisms are generally spread by eating or drinking contaminated food or water, unpasteurised milk and by direct or indirect contact with faecal material from an infected person, wild or domestic animal, bird or pet.

  Simple steps can be taken to help prevent Campylobacter infection. These include the careful and hygienic storage and handling of raw meat, avoiding consumption of unpasteurised/raw milk or unchlorinated water. As a general hygiene rule hands should be washed with soap and water after handling animals—including domestic pets.

  For more information, please contact: The Pet Health Council, tel: 020 7631 3795.

October 2002

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