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Campylobacter Outbreak from Pet Store Puppies

A human outbreak of intestinal bacteria has been linked to pet store puppies.

As of early October 2017, at least 55 people have been stricken by campylobacteriosis in 12 states. Caused by the bacteria Campylobacter, authorities have traced this outbreak to puppies distributed and sold through Petland, a pet store chain. Thirteen of those people have had to be hospitalized.

Campylobacter is commonly found in the gut of normal dogs, but sometimes a pathogenic strain will appear, which can cause intestinal illness in dogs and also spread to humans.

What Are the Symptoms of Campylobacter Infection?

Humans infected with Campylobacter, which they get by contacting contaminated stool from an infected puppy, can develop symptoms beginning anywhere from 1-3 days after exposure. These can include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain

People are usually sick for up to 5 days, and the illness can be quite serious and even life-threatening in some instances.

Facts About 2017 Outbreak

Regarding the current outbreak, at the time of this writing in mid-October, 2017, the following is known or believed by authorities:

  • 14 people who became sick were Petland employees.
  • 35 people who became sick had direct contact with a puppy from Petland before becoming ill.
  • Samples from humans and dogs infected during this outbreak have been resistant to multiple antibiotics.
  • Dogs in a Petland breeding facility may have been fed contaminated food, leading to infection of the puppies during birth; those puppies were then distributed to many stores.

Tips for Pet Owners for Avoiding Campylobacter

Puppies and dogs can carry Campylobacter and other bacteria, viruses, and parasites that are transmittable to humans. The following advice should be adhered to in order to decrease your chances of contracting any of these from your dog:

  • Always wash your hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water after handling your dog. Be especially mindful of monitoring that children do this.
  • Don't allow a dog or puppy to lick your face or any areas of broken skin and teach your kids to avoid this, as well.
  • If your dog shows signs of illness, take him to the veterinarian right away for diagnosis and treatment.
  • Use disposable gloves to handle dog feces, and be sure to clean it up promptly whether it is inside or outside.

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