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Since our last report on the multidrug-resistant Campylobacter infections linked to contact with pet store puppies at the end of October, 30 more ill people have been reported from 11 states.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of December 12, 2017, 97 people with laboratory-confirmed infections or symptoms consistent with Campylobacter infection have been linked to this outbreak. Illnesses have been reported from 17 states.

Image/jagdprinzessin via pixabay
Image/jagdprinzessin via pixabay

Twenty-two (24%) of 91 ill people with available information have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

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

Of 89 people interviewed, 87 (98%) reported contact with a puppy in the week before illness started. Of 88 people interviewed, 79 (90%) reported they had contact with a puppy from a Petland store, or had contact with a person who became sick after contact with a puppy from a Petland store. Twenty-one ill people worked at a Petland store.

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Whole genome sequencing (WGS) showed that the Campylobacter isolates from sick people in this outbreak and isolates from pet store puppies were closely related genetically, providing additional evidence that people got sick from contact with pet store puppies.

Health officials say they’ve identified multiple antimicrobial resistance genes and mutations in most isolates from 35 ill people and 9 puppies in this outbreak.  Isolates tested were resistant to azithromycin, ciprofloxacin, clindamycin, erythromycin, nalidixic acid, telithromycin, and tetracycline. In addition, 10 were resistant to gentamicin, and 2 were resistant to florfenicol.

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CDC offers the following recommendations to pet owners:

Always wash 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 handwashing 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.
  • Use disposable gloves to clean up after your puppy or dog, and wash your hands afterwards. Clean up any urine (pee), feces (poop), or vomit in the house immediately. Then disinfect the area using a water and bleach solution.
  • Don’t let pets lick around your mouth and face.
  • Don’t let pets 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 the veterinarian for a health check-up.

  • When choosing a pet, 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 or dies soon after purchase or adoption, take your dog to the veterinarian promptly and inform the pet store, breeder, or rescue organization about the pet’s illness or death. Thoroughly clean the area occupied by your pet by using a water and bleach solution.
  • If your dog dies, consider waiting at least a few weeks before purchasing or adopting another pet.