People are getting sick from a bacterial disease — and pet-store puppies might be to blame

By Marwa Eltagouri, The Washington Post

A disease linked to puppies sold at Petland, a nationwide chain of about 80 pet stores, has sickened 55 people and hospitalized 13, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Since the outbreak began in mid-September, the disease has spread from seven states to 12 states, with cases reported in Florida, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

While Campylobacter is a fairly common bacteria among puppies and dogs, it’s unusual to see a large, multistate outbreak of human infections, said Mark Laughlin, a CDC veterinarian, in an email. Most cases are associated with eating raw or undercooked poultry or meat, or from cross-contamination of these and other foods.

The infection can cause bloody diarrhea, vomiting and fever.

Lab results show that puppies sold through Ohio-based Petland are probably the source of the outbreak. About 35 of the people diagnosed recently purchased a puppy from Petland, visited one of the chain’s stores or visited a home with a Petland puppy that was sold before the outbreak began. Fourteen of the people diagnosed are Petland employees.

But animals can also be infected, and can spread the disease to people even though they might not show any symptoms. People who touch even a small amount of feces on a dog’s fur or food bowl, and then inadvertently touch their mouths, can get an infection, Laughlin said.

The Campylobacter strain in the recent outbreak appears to be resistant to commonly recommended antibiotics, Laughlin said. But most people who get sick don’t need antibiotics and can recover within a week without any specific treatment.

Children under 5, adults over 65 and people with a weakened immune systems might require additional treatment, Laughlin said.

Petland said in a statement Tuesday that “regardless of where they are from, any puppies …read more

Source:: The Denver Post

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