Puppies behind outbreak that seems to be making Americans sick across 13 states, says CDC

These puppies may be harboring the Campylobacter bacteria that does not respond to the commonly recommended, first-line antibiotics


                            Puppies behind outbreak that seems to be making Americans sick across 13 states, says CDC
The CDC recommends that people should always wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching their pets or after handling their food. (Getty Images)

Puppies seem to be involved in a new disease outbreak this year, sickening 30 people across 13 states, according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), which has, so far, recorded four hospitalizations and no deaths.

These puppies may be harboring the Campylobacter bacteria that does not respond to the commonly recommended, first-line antibiotics. Coming in contact with infected pups can transmit the disease to humans, say experts. The states, according to CDC, include Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Wyoming.

After interviewing 24 infected people, CDC could see one common trend emerge clearly. Most of the infected patients -- 21 (88%) of them -- had come into contact with a puppy. More specifically, the contact came from a pet store: 15 (71%) of them reported to have had contact from pet stores.

Further, the health agency narrowed their search down to a specific clinic: Petland, a national pet store chain. Twelve (80%) of the 15 people visited the clinic, and among them, five (42%) were Petland employees.

Most of the infected patients -- 21 of them -- had come into contact with a puppy (Getty Images)

"Laboratory evidence indicates that bacteria from ill people in this outbreak are closely related genetically to bacteria from ill people in the 2016–2018 outbreak of multidrug-resistant Campylobacter infections linked to pet store puppies," says the CDC in a statement.

In response, Petland issued a statement saying that they have taken all steps to prevent human and puppy illness, including: mandatory sanitary training for all employees, signage displayed prominently throughout the stores, multiple available sanitation stations, for example.

“Petland takes the health and welfare of our employees, our customers and our pets very seriously,” the company said, adding that more than a third of reported cases have occurred in states with no stores.

Campylobacter, which causes an estimated 1.5 million illnesses each year in the US, is usually mild, but can be fatal among very young children, elderly, and individuals with weak immunity, according to the CDC.

People often get the infection by eating raw or undercooked poultry or eating something that touched it. Other sources include contact with infected animals-- dogs, cats, poultry, cattle, and the like -- and by drinking untreated water.

Once the bacteria infects people, they show symptoms of diarrhoea, fever and stomach cramps within two to five days after exposure, according to the CDC. The disease is mild but can be fatal among very young children, the elderly, and those with a weak immune system.

Maintaining hygiene is key to avoiding the disease. The CDC recommends that people should always wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching their pets or after handling their food. For those choosing to adopt a dog or pup, they suggest picking a puppy or dog that is bright, alert, and playful.

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