Gastrointestinal diseases are a major problem in young children in Indigenous communities, and an important factor in failure to thrive. In Western Australia, hospitalisation for gastroenteritis was 7 times higher in Aboriginal children than NonAboriginal children (Gracey and Cullinane 2003). Diarrhea was associated with potential zoonotic pathogens: including bacteria such as Salmonella spp., and Campylobacter spp., and protozoa such as Cryptosporidium spp. and Giardia spp. (Gunzburg et al 1992, Meloni et al 1993).
These germs have all been found in dogs in Indigenous communities. However, it’s unclear what the exact role of the dog is in the spread of disease. Dogs might be one of the sources of the germs. Dogs might also play a part in transferring germs from other sources, such as baby’s nappies (kimbes), or from food, to people.