Puppies from pet store chain sicken 39 people in 7 states

Henrietta Strickland
September 14, 2017

Q: While Illinois isn't one of the 7 states that are part of the campylobacter outbreak connected to Petland store puppies, is this illness a potential threat around here and are there other ways to get infected besides contact with dogs?

Thirty-nine people in seven states, including Wisconsin, have become ill due to the Campylobacter infection, which can cause diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever. The first case was recorded in September of previous year and, since then, nine people have been hospitalized as a result of the infection. The first case that started this outbreak appeared on September 15, 2016. Due to this, CDC estimates that more than 1.3 million Americans acquire the infection every year. Severe infections could result to fatal complications that may either cause paralysis or death. The infection presents more risks to people with weak immune systems such as people with cancer, elderly, and newborns.

Of the 39 people with confirmed Campylobacter infections, 12 worked at Petland.

The CDC has not identified any failures of Petland's operating system that would lead to any campylobacter infection, said Petland officials in a statement.

The Petland store in Topeka said the CDC has not contacted them and would contact them to test their puppies if it was there.

Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicates that puppies sold through Petland stores are a likely source of this outbreak.

Petland is fully cooperating with health officials to address the outbreak.

Kunzelman added that Petland has many sanitation stations in each store and has strict kennel sanitation procedures and protocols put in place by consulting veterinarians.

"Petland takes the health and welfare of our pets, our customers and staff very seriously", the statement said.

So it's definitely possible to get a Campylobacter infection from dogs, but Dr. Adalja says it's much more commonly passed on via raw or uncooked chicken. Previous outbreaks of Campylobacter infection were linked to contaminated water, poultry, produce and unpasteurized dairy products. That's why washing your hands after cleaning up after your pet is so important. Extra care is needed so that children playing with puppies also wash their hands carefully.

The CDC also recommends quickly disposing of dog poop using disposable gloves, as well as regular visits to the veterinarian to keep your dog healthy. According to the CDC, any puppy or dog, regardless of where they come from, may carry the Campylobacter germ.

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