Campylobacter outbreak linked to contact with puppies

Published on November 01, 2017
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Health officials have linked a multistate outbreak of human Campylobacter infections to puppies sold through Petland, a national chain of pet stores with headquarters in Ohio.

The Ohio Department of Health, several other states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service are investigating the outbreak.

According to an Oct. 3 update from the CDC, 55 people with laboratory-confirmed infections or symptoms consistent with Campylobacter infection who live in 12 states have been linked to this outbreak. Ohio had 22 cases, Florida 13, and Kansas 7. Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming each had one or two cases.

Per the CDC update:

  • 14 of the ill people are Petland employees from five states.
  • 35 people either recently purchased a puppy at Petland, visited a Petland, or visited or live in a home with a puppy sold through Petland before illness began.
  • One person had sexual contact with a person with a confirmed illness linked to Petland.
  • Four people were exposed to puppies from various sources.
  • One person had unknown exposure to puppies.

The ill people range in age from less than 1 year to 86 years, with a median age of 23 years. Sixty-nine percent are female, and 24 percent report being hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicated that puppies sold through Petland stores are a likely source of this outbreak. Petland has been cooperating with health officials to address the outbreak. Clinical samples from people and puppies sickened in this outbreak appear to be resistant to commonly recommended, first-line antimicrobials.

The CDC update lists steps that pet owners can take to prevent getting sick from puppies or dogs as well as advice for veterinarians on dog testing and environmental sanitation.