SEP 12, 2017 3:12 PM PDT

CDC: Puppies are Behind a Bacteria Outbreak

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Image credit: Pixabay.com

Adorable puppies could be behind a bacterial outbreak that has sickened 39 people across seven states so far.

According to the ongoing investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 39 people have become ill with Campylobacter infection. Although the cases are spread across seven states (Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin), investigators are focusing on one common link: puppies. Specifically, puppies sold at Petland stores, a nationwide pet store chain.

All 39 affected people had been exposed to Petland puppies in one way or another. Per the CDC, 12 people are employees at Petland, while the remaining people had recently purchased a puppy at Petland, visited a Petland, or visited or live in a home with a puppy sold through Petland before the illness began .

Campylobacter is spread through contact with contaminated dog poop. Importantly, sick people usually can’t infect other people.

Image credit: Wikipedia.org

Infection with Campylobacter causes bouts of diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever within two to five days after exposure. Symptoms usually resolve within a week without any specific treatment. However, in rare cases, the bacteria can travel into the bloodstream and cause life-threatening infections. Of the 39 reported cases, 9 people had to be hospitalized for undisclosed reasons. There have been no deaths reported.

Per the CDC, “puppies sold through Petland stores are a likely source of this outbreak.” But how the puppies got infected is still under investigation.

As officials are working to contain the outbreak, they say there are some simple steps you can take to prevent getting sick. This includes thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water after contact with any pet. This is especially pertinent advice if you have to clean up any unsightly messes, including urine, poop, and vomit. Moreover, pay attention to your pet’s health. In dogs, Campylobacter infection can cause diarrhea, sluggishness, and loss of appetite. When in doubt, have your pet examined by a veterinarian to rule out infections.

Of note, Campylobacter can also lurk in uncooked poultry. So, make sure your pet is healthy, your hands are washed, and your chicken is cooked through.

Additional sources: Live Science

About the Author
I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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