The source of an ongoing multistate Campylobacter outbreak has recently been identified, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Believe it or not, the source turned out to be puppies sold by a national pet store chain called Petland, Inc.
Thus far, 39 individuals spanning 7 states have confirmed Campylobacter infections or are experiencing symptoms consistent with infection, such as diarrhea, cramping, stomach pain, and fever. The following states have been affected by this outbreak: Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. All infected individuals were exposed to the puppies within Petland stores, according to a recent outbreak notice.
The CDC reports that 12 of the infected individuals are Petland employees (from 4 different states) and the other 27 individuals either took a puppy home from Petland recently, visited a Petland store, or reside in a home with one of the puppies.
There have not been any reported deaths associated with the outbreaks; however, 9 infected individuals have required hospitalization so far.
The illnesses started from September 15, 2016 to August 12, 2017, with the most recent illness reported on September 1, 2017. Infected individuals range in age from less than 1 year old to 64 years of age; 72% of those infected are female.
After performing whole genome sequencing on stool samples taken from the puppies sold at a Petland store in Florida, officials detected samples of Campylobacter; these samples were “closely related” to the bacteria detected in stool samples taken from an infected individual in Ohio. The CDC reports that more laboratory results regarding individuals and dogs are “pending.”
Petland is fully cooperating with health officials to address the outbreak. “Today the CDC posted an update of 39 cases of humans with Campylobacter. These 39 people completed several different questionnaires and one commonality was that they had visited a Petland store in the past week or worked there,” Petland’s statement read. “The questionnaires were not consistent and didn't ask the same questions related to type of food the dogs ate or other contact with dogs.” Petland also stressed that they provided the CDC with complete access to their stores, staff, consulting veterinarians, operation procedures, and pets.
“The CDC has not identified any failures of Petland’s operating system that would lead to any Campylobacter infection. Petland reinforces proper hand sanitization before and after playing with any of our puppies, with many sanitation stations in each store, and has strict kennel sanitation procedures and protocols put into place by consulting veterinarians,” according to Petland’s statement.
The CDC notes that the bacteria have the potential to spread through dog feces, and rarely through person-to-person contact. The CDC is urging pet owners, pet store workers, and veterinarians to be aware that any puppies and dogs could potentially carry these harmful bacteria. Therefore, it’s important to know the symptoms associated with a Campylobacter infection. Veterinarians should educate any clients who recently purchased a puppy or dog on the risks of Campylobacter infection as well as other zoonotic diseases.
Officials from the Ohio Department of Health, several other states, the CDC, and United States Department of Agriculture—Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service are continuing to investigate the outbreak. To stay up-to-date on the outbreak, be sure to continually check the Contagion ® Outbreak Monitor.