A bacterial outbreak that includes 39 people from seven states has been linked to puppies sold at a popular pet-store chain, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Monday. Federal and state investigators are looking into the outbreak of Camplyobacter infections linked to puppies sold through Petland pet stores.
Cases related to the pet store have been reported in Ohio, Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Illnesses ranged from September 15, 2016 through August 12, 2017, and the most recent illness was September 1, 2017. Twelve people affected were employees from four states, and 27 people affected had either purchased a puppy at Petland, visited a Petland, or live in a home with a puppy purchased at Petland. Petland is cooperating with officials to investigate the outbreak.
Campylobacter is usually not spread from one person to another, but rather can be spread through contact with dog feces. Most people with an infection show symptoms two to five days after being exposed to the bacteria, and symptoms include diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting. Symptoms last for about a week. Particularly vulnerable are people with weakened immune systems, young children, older adults and pregnant women. According to the Washington Post, most Campylobacter infections are caused by eating raw or uncooked proteins, but animals can get infections without showing symptoms.
In a statement, Petland said the CDC “has not identified any failures of Petland’s operating system” that would have led to the outbreak, and noted their health warranty provides coverage for pets and customers who encounter bacterial issues like this. The chain enforces hand sanitization before and after playing with their puppies and has strict sanitation guidelines with its kennels. “Last week the CDC advised Petland to ‘continue to do what we are already doing’ and to continue to educate customers and staff to sanitize their hands after handling our puppies,” the statement reads.
“Regardless of where you obtain your family dog, all dogs are carbon-based life-forms, and just like our own kids, they are subject to a wide variety [of] illness,” Petland CEO Joe Watson told the Post. “We take every precaution possible to ensure the health of our pets.”
Of course, the best way to adopt a pup is by going through your local animal shelter, and the CDC recommends choosing a dog that is alert and playful, with a shiny, soft coat that doesn’t have any feces on it. Then, be sure to take your new puppy to a veterinarian shortly after you take it home. If your dog becomes ill after you take it home, contact your vet promptly and let the store, breeder or rescue group know.