Pet store puppies linked to multistate bacteria outbreak

Faith Castro
September 13, 2017

Puppies under 3 or 4 months old, for example, are at higher risk and they can be pretty sick with this infection, she said.

An outbreak of human Campylobacter infections have been linked to puppies sold through the national pet store chain Petland, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced early this week. There are now no cases in the New York Area.

Out of the 39 confirmed cases, 12 were employees of Petland and 27 either visited Petland or living with a puppy purchased from the pet store chain. According to the CDC's announcement, nine people have been hospitalized and there are no reported deaths.

Petland is cooperating with public health and animal officials to address the outbreak.

Whole genome sequencing showed samples of Campylobacter isolated from the stool of puppies sold through Petland in Florida were closely related to Campylobacter isolated from the stool of an ill person in Ohio.

The CDC notes that the bacteria have the potential to spread through dog feces, and rarely through person-to-person contact.

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The CDC advised Petland to "continue to do what we are already doing" and to continue to educate customers and staff to sanitize their hands after handling puppies.

The investigation is ongoing, according to the CDC, which is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Inspection Service and several health departments.

Can your new puppy make you sick? Rankin says that she's seen many outbreak investigations, and it can be hard to pin down the exact cause.

The infection is called campylobacter. According to the CDC, any puppy or dog, regardless of where they come from, may carry the Campylobacter germ. The bacteria incubates in your body for up to seven days before you develop symptoms, Richard Watkins, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine at Northeast Ohio Medical University and an infectious disease specialist in Akron, Ohio, tells SELF. The CDC estimates that annually, Campylobacter impacts 1.3 million people. But Dr. Watkins says that people with more severe cases or those who are pregnant or immunocompromised are given antibiotics.

The CDC also recommends quickly disposing of dog poop using disposable gloves, as well as regular visits to the veterinarian to keep your dog healthy. And it can't hurt to also wash your hands after playing with dogs. Though for any dog lover, washing your hands every time you pet them seems unrealistic.

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