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CDC Expands Investigation of Human Campylobacter Infections Linked to Pet Store Puppies


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The CDC has expanded its investigation of a multistate outbreak of human Campylobacter infections linked to puppies sold through Petland, a national pet store chain. The CDC has confirmed that 16 more ill people with a Campylobacter infection linked to the outbreak have been reported since Sept. 11. The most recent illness began on Sept. 12.

As of Oct. 3, a total of 55 people with laboratory-confirmed infections or symptoms consistent with Campylobacter infection who live in 12 states—Florida, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming—have been linked to this outbreak.

The CDC's expanded investigation resulted in cases found in humans in four states where Petland has no store locations (Utah, Wyoming, New Hampshire and Maryland).

Ill people range in age from less than 1 year to 86 years, with a median age of 23 years; 38 (69 percent) are female; and 13 (24 percent) report being hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicates that puppies sold through Petland stores are a likely source of the outbreak. Petland is cooperating with public health and animal health officials to address this outbreak.

Petland has been able to provide traceback for any puppy purchased as requested by the CDC, thus making sense for CDC and Petland to work together to conduct testing, said Petland officials.

Whole genome sequencing showed samples of Campylobacter isolated from the stool of puppies sold through Petland were closely related to Campylobacter samples isolated from the stool of ill people in multiple states.

The CDC has no new recommendations for Petland but continues to advise that Petland reinforces proper hand sanitization before and after playing with any of it puppies with the many sanitation stations in each store and continues to follow Petland's strict kennel sanitation procedures and protocols put in place by consulting veterinarians. Since the initial contact, Petland has re-doubled its efforts in educating staff and customers about proper hand sanitization, officials added.

According to the CDC, symptoms typically appear within 2 to 5 days of being exposed to the bacteria. It is transmitted from feces to mouth. Symptoms typically include diarrhea, nausea, intestinal cramping and vomiting. The notice from the CDC also notes that this strain is resistant to many antibiotics, as is the case with a majority of the Campylobacter strains.

CDC estimates that in the U.S., more than two million people are sickened every year with antibiotic-resistant infections. The vast majority of Campylobacter cases are treated simply with hydration and rest.

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