The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is collaborating with public health officials in several states to investigate an outbreak of multidrug-resistant human Campylobacter jejuni infections linked to contact with puppies from pet stores, including Petland.
As of December 17th, the outbreak strain has been identified in 30 people infected with Campylobacter jejuni in 13 states. There have been 4 hospitalizations and no deaths reported.
Of the 24 people interviewed, 21 reported contact with a puppy. Of the 21 people reporting contact with a puppy, 15 reported contact with a puppy from a pet store.
In addition, 12 of those 15 people were linked to the chain pet store Petland. Of the 12 people linked to Petland, 5 are employees.
Illnesses began between January 6, 2019, and November 10, 2019. The age of those infected ranges from 8 months to 70 years, with a median age of 34.
Whole genome sequencing was used to perform DNA fingerprinting on bacteria collected from the ill. Testing has found that bacteria in this outbreak are closely related to bacteria from people who became ill in the 2016-2018 outbreak of multidrug-resistant Campylobacter jejuni infections also linked to pet store puppies. In the 2016-2018 outbreak, 87% of people reported contact with a puppy from Petland stores and 25 people were employees.
Investigators also reported 8 more ill people linked to the current outbreak who had contact with a puppy at Petland, but CDC did not include these people in the outbreak case count because samples were not available for testing.
Genome sequencing also revealed the resistance makeup of the bacteria. Bacteria from 26 isolates predicted resistance to gentamicin (18 isolates), telithromycin (23), clindamycin (23), erythromycin (23), azithromycin (23), nalidixic acid (25) ciprofloxacin (25), and tetracycline (26).
Pet owners and pet store workers are advised to wash their hands after contact with puppies. Pet store workers are advised to wear gloves while cleaning any pet messes, to wash work clothes and equipment regularly, and to have shoes or boots that are only worn and stored at work.
Symptoms of human infection include fever, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. Illness typically subsides within a week and most people recover without antibiotics. Serious complications are rare.
Antibiotics may be necessary in patients who are very ill or who are immunocompromised.
The investigation is ongoing, and a common supplier of puppies has not been identified.