COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating a multistate outbreak of infections linked to contact with puppies sold through Petland, a national pet store chain.
Campylobacteriosis, a common bacterial infection, can cause diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever, according to the CDC.
As of September 11, a total of 39 people have fallen ill in seven states, including 18 in Ohio, two in Pennsylvania, 11 cases in Florida, five in Kansas, one in Missouri, one in Tennessee and one in Wisconsin. There have been nine hospitalizations and no deaths reported. The first case within this outbreak occurred on September 15, 2016.
Symptoms, which typically begin within two to five days after contact with the bacteria, last around a week, though some people don’t experience any signs of illness.
While many cases go unreported, about 14 cases for every 100,000 people are diagnosed each year in the United States, according to the CDC. Overall, campylobacteriosis — which occurs much more frequently in the summer months than in the winter — is estimated to affect over 1.3 million persons every year.
Almost every patient recovers within five days without treatment, though drinking extra fluids is recommended. In rare cases, an infection can lead to complications, including paralysis and even death.
People with weakened immune systems, such as infants, the elderly and people with cancer or other severe illnesses, are most at risk for a serious infection.
Most of reported illnesses are female and 12 are Petland employees. Of the total, 27 either recently purchased a puppy at Petland, visited a Petland, or visited or live in a home with a puppy sold through Petland.
Know the symptoms of a Campylobacter infection and what to do if you have a serious infection:
- Most people with a Campylobacter infection develop symptoms 2 to 5 days after being exposed to the bacteria. Symptoms usually last about a week. The following are typical symptoms:
- Diarrhea (that is often bloody)
- Stomach cramps
- People more likely to get a severe infection include:
- People with weakened immune systems (such as people with the genetic blood disorder thalassemia or HIV or people receiving chemotherapy)
- Children younger than 5 years
- Adults 65 years and older
- Pregnant women
Follow these steps when choosing a puppy or dog:
- Pick a puppy or dog that is bright, alert, and playful. Puppies and dogs should have shiny, soft fur that is free of poop (feces).
- Take your new puppy or dog to the veterinarian for a health check-up within a few days to a week after adoption.
- More information on choosing and caring for a puppy or dog is available here.
Follow these steps if your puppy or dog is ill:
- Contact your veterinarian. Signs of illness include appearing sluggish, not eating, diarrhea, and abnormal breathing. Keep in mind that even a dog that appears healthy might spread germs to people and other animals.
- If your puppy or dog becomes sick or dies soon after purchase or adoption, take it to the veterinarian promptly, and inform the pet store, breeder, or rescue organization about your dog’s illness or death.
- Thoroughly clean the area occupied by your ill pet. If your puppy died, consider waiting at least a few weeks before purchasing or adopting another pet to reduce the chance of spreading disease to your new pet.
Follow these steps to prevent the spreading of disease between people and puppies and dogs:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with running water and soap for at least 20 seconds every time you touch dogs, their food, or clean up after them. Adults should supervise handwashing for young children.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer until you are able to wash your hands with soap and water.
- Pick up and dispose of dog poop, especially in areas where children might play. Use disposable gloves and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
- Clean up any pee (urine), poop (stool), or vomit in the house immediately, and disinfect the area. Use disposable gloves to handle anything that has touched pee, poop, or vomit, and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
- Take your dog to the veterinarian regularly to keep it healthy and to help prevent the spread of disease.
- Don’t let pets lick around your mouth and face.
- Don’t let pets lick your open wound or areas with broken skin.