Federal health officials have launched an investigation into a multi-state outbreak of Campylobacter, which is believed to be linked to pet dogs sold at Petland stores, which have sickened at least 39 individuals across seven states.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a Campylobacter outbreak advisory on September 11, after determining certain Petland puppies may be carrying the infection, which could serious illness for owners or others who come into contact with the animals.
In conjunction with the Ohio Department of Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS), the CDC has launched an outbreak investigation into the human Campylobacter infections, indicating that the first illness was reported on August 12, 2017. Several additional clusters of illnesses have been identified in seven different states.
Researchers immediately began performing traceback investigations and identified a link between the Petland puppies and Campylobacter cases. Among the 39 individuals infected, 12 are employees of Petland stores, and the other 27 individuals either recently purchased a puppy at a Petland store, or visited a home of someone who recently purchased a puppy through a Petland store before their illness began.
Further epidemiologic and laboratory tests discovered the strains of Campylobacter found in sickened individuals were closely related to samples tested from the puppy feces. Additional testing is underway to confirm the source of the outbreak.
As of September 11, 2017, the outbreak has sickened 39 individuals in Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. The last illness was recorded on September 1, 2017, however more illnesses are anticipated given the infection may not begin to show symptoms until several days after exposure.
Campylobacter are a group of germs that normally inhabit the intestinal tract of warm-blooded animals such as poultry and cattle, and are frequently detected in foods derived from these animals. The bacteria are a common cause of food poisoning, and one of the most common causes of diarrheal illness in the country.
Symptoms include cramping, vomiting, severe diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain and fever within two to five days after exposure, which typically last for seven to ten days.
The CDC is recommending individuals wash their hands thoroughly to prevent the spread of the contamination, which can be contracted from contact with feces of an infected animal. Those with pet dogs from a Petland store are being encouraged to dispose of their pet’s feces carefully, especially in areas that children might play, and to contact their local veterinarian if owners recognize the animal showing signs of illness.