The Centers for Disease Control is urging special precautions after an outbreak of a disease associated with puppies at pet stores in Ohio and twelve other states.

The CDC and other local public health are investigating reports of multidrug-resistant human Campylobacter jejuni infections linked to contact with puppies from pet stores.

As of Tuesday, a total of 30 people infected with Campylobacter have been reported from 13 states. Four hospitalizations have been reported. No deaths have been reported.

Five of those cases have been reported in Ohio. According to the Ohio Department of Health, four of those cases were in the Columbus area and one in the Cincinnati area. Two of those people were hospitalized. There have been no deaths associated with the outbreak in Ohio.

 

 

With reported illnesses reporting back to January, victims range in age from 8 months to 70 years old.

Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicate that puppies purchased from pet stores are the likely source of this outbreak. Many of the cases had contact with puppies or were employees at pet stores, including Petland.

When asked about the specific pet store, 12 of 15 people questioned reported either having contact with a puppy or working at a Petland store.

A single, common supplier of puppies has not been identified.

Campylobacter bacteria isolated from clinical samples from ill people in this outbreak are resistant to commonly recommended, first-line antibiotics.

Symptoms of campylobacter infection in people

  • Most people infected with Campylobacter infection develop diarrhea (often bloody), fever, and stomach cramps 2 to 5 days after being exposed to the bacteria.
  • The illness usually lasts about a week, and most people recover without antibiotic treatment.
  • Antibiotics are needed only for patients who are very ill or at high risk for severe disease, such as people with severely weakened immune systems.

 

Advice to pet owners from the CDC:

Puppies and dogs can carry Campylobacter germs that can make people sick, even while appearing healthy and clean. People who own or come in contact with puppies or dogs should take steps to stay healthy around their pets.

  • Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching your puppy or dog, after handling their food, and after cleaning up after them.
  • Adults should supervise hand washing for young children. If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer until you are able to wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Wash your hands after cleaning up urine (pee), feces (poop), or vomit from your puppy or dog. Clean up any pee, poop, or vomit inside the house immediately. Then disinfect the area using a water and bleach solution.
  • Don’t let dogs lick around your mouth and face.
  • Don’t let dogs lick your open wound or areas with broken skin.
  • Take your dog to the veterinarian regularly to keep it healthy and to help prevent the spread of disease.

Within a few days after getting a new puppy or dog, take it to a veterinarian for a health check-up.

  • When choosing a pet dog, pick a puppy or dog that is bright, alert, and playful.
  • Signs of illness include appearing lethargic (sluggish or tired), not eating, having diarrhea, and breathing abnormally. However, even a dog that appears healthy can spread germs to people and other animals.
  • If your dog becomes sick soon after purchase or adoption, take your dog to a veterinarian promptly and inform the pet store, breeder, or rescue organization about the pet’s illness. Thoroughly clean the area occupied by your pet by using a water and bleach solution.