Don’t let those puppy eyes fool you. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Monday that it is launching an investigation on a multistate outbreak involving bacteria traced from puppies sold by national pet store chain Petland.
Puppies from Petland were linked to 39 cases of Campylobacteriosis in seven states. Infections caused by Campylobacter, a bacteria that commonly causes diarrheal illness, were observed in Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, The Washington Post reported.
Officials from the CDC confirmed that nine individuals have been hospitalized since last September. No deaths have been reported from the bacterial outbreak.
Laboratory tests and epidemiological findings show that puppies sold by Petland are the likely source of the bacterial outbreak. According to the CDC, 12 of those diagnosed with Campylobacteriosis are Petland employees, while 27 patients recently bought a puppy from Petland, visited the Petland or stayed in a home with a puppy sold through the said pet store.
Campylobacter is transmitted through contact with an infected dog’s feces. Other cases of Campylobacteriosis are caused by eating raw or undercooked meat.
Campylobacter infections may not manifest any symptoms. Some cases may even go unreported. Campylobacteriosis, however, is also said to cause severe stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting. Most patients recover within five days without specific treatment. According to CNN, in worst cases a Campylobacter infection can cause complications and may lead to paralysis and even death.
People with low immune system, such as infants, elderly, and people suffering severe illnesses like cancer, are most at risk of getting infected.
Petland is cooperating with the investigation conducted by the CDC, which is also working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Inspection Service and other health departments. The government agency has not identified any failure on Petland’s part that would have caused the bacterial outbreak. Additionally, CDC has advised Petland to continue with its operations.
Elizabeth Kunzelman, spokeswoman for Petland, said that the company provides sanitation stations in all of their pet store chains and has put up strict sanitation procedures and protocols in caring for their puppies.
“Our extensive health warranty protects both our pets and our customers from bacterial, viral and congenital issues,” Kunzelman told CNN.
To avoid contamination, the CDC recommends washing hands thoroughly after coming into contact with dogs, their feces, or their food. Parents are advised to watch over children playing with puppies and make sure that dog poop around the house is properly cleaned and disinfected. Finally, pet owners are advised to contact their veterinarians to check if there are signs of infection in their dogs or newly-bought puppies.
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