September 15, 2017

Pet Store Puppies Linked to Multistate Campylobacter Outbreak

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified the source of a multistate outbreak of Campylobacter infection in people.
By American Veterinarian Editorial Staff
UPDATE: Since October 31, the case count is now up to 65 across 15 states, but the true number of people affected by this Camplyobacter infection is still unkown since many infections are not diagnosed or go unreported. 

States with reported infections now include Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Utah, Missouri, Ohio, Ilinois, Wisconsin, New York, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Maryland, Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida.


The investigation into an outbreak of Campylobacter infection in humans is ongoing, but officials have linked it to contact with puppies originating from a chain of Ohio-based pet stores.

Thirty-nine people in 7 states have confirmed or suspected Campylobacter infections, with symptoms including diarrhea, cramping, stomach pain, and fever. Affected states are Ohio (18 cases), Florida (11 cases), Kansas (5 cases), Pennsylvania (2 cases), Missouri, Tennessee, and Wisconsin (1 case each). All infected individuals were exposed to puppies within Petland stores, according to a recent outbreak notice.

Of the infected individuals, 12 are Petland employees (from 4 different states) and 27 either visited a Petland store recently or reside in a homes with a puppy recently purchased from Petland.

No deaths associated with the outbreaks have been reported, but 9 individuals have been hospitalized so far.

The first illness was reported in September 2016, with the most recent case reported on September 1, 2017. Affected individuals range in age from less than 1 year to 64 years; 72% are female.

After performing whole-genome sequencing on stool samples taken from the puppies sold at a Petland store in Florida, officials detected samples of Campylobacter. These samples were “closely related” to the bacteria detected in stool samples taken from an infected individual in Ohio. The CDC reports that more laboratory results regarding individuals and dogs are “pending.”
 
Petland is cooperating fully with health officials to address the outbreak. Petland's statement from Monday read in part: “Today the CDC posted an update of 39 cases of humans with Campylobacter. These 39 people completed several different questionnaires and one commonality was that they had visited a Petland store in the past week or worked there.”

Petland also stressed that the company provided the CDC with complete access to its stores, staff, consulting veterinarians, operation procedures, and pets.

“The CDC has not identified any failures of Petland’s operating system that would lead to any Campylobacter infection. Petland reinforces proper hand sanitization before and after playing with any of our puppies, with many sanitation stations in each store, and has strict kennel sanitation procedures and protocols put into place by consulting veterinarians,” according to Petland’s statement.

Campylobacter can infect dogs, cats, and people. It is typically spread through raw or undercooked meat, but it may also be passed along through dog feces and, rarely, person-to-person contact. The CDC is urging pet owners, employees, and veterinarians to be aware that any puppies and dogs could potentially carry these harmful bacteria. Therefore, it’s important to know the symptoms associated with a Campylobacter infection.

Veterinarians should educate any clients who recently purchased a puppy or dog on the risks of Campylobacter infection as well as other zoonotic diseases.

Officials from the Ohio Department of Health, several other state health departments, the CDC, and US Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service are continuing to investigate the outbreak.

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