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Multistate Outbreak of Human Campylobacter Infections Linked to Pet Store Puppies

Posted September 11, 2017 9:00 AM ET

Outbreak Advisory

39
Cases

7
States

9
Hospitalizations

0
Deaths

  • Read Advice to Pet Owners and Advice to Pet Store Workers.
  • The Ohio Department of Health, several other states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) are investigating a multistate outbreak of human Campylobacter infections linked to puppies sold through Petland, a national pet store chain.
  • The outbreak includes 39 people with laboratory-confirmed Campylobacter infections or symptoms consistent with Campylobacter infection who live in 7 states (Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wisconsin) and were exposed to puppies sold through Petland stores.
    • 12 are Petland employees from 4 states.
    • 27 either recently purchased a puppy at Petland, visited a Petland, or visited or live in a home with a puppy sold through Petland before illness began.
  • Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicates that puppies sold through Petland stores are a likely source of this outbreak. Petland is cooperating with public health and animal health officials to address this outbreak.
  • Campylobacter can spread through contact with dog poop (feces). It usually does not spread from one person to another.
  • This investigation is ongoing. CDC will provide updates as more information becomes available.

Initial Announcement

September 11, 2017

The Ohio Department of Health, several other states, CDC, and USDA-APHIS are investigating a multistate outbreak of human Campylobacter infections linked to puppies sold through Petland stores. Investigators are looking for the source of infections in people and puppies so they can recommend how to stop the outbreak and prevent more illnesses in order to protect human and animal health.

As of September 11, 2017, the outbreak includes 39 cases in 7 states (Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wisconsin). A list of the number of cases by state can be found on the Case Count Map page.

Illnesses began on dates ranging from September 15, 2016 through August 12, 2017. The most recent illness was reported on September 1, 2017.

Ill people range in age from <1 year to 64 years, with a median age of 22 years; 28 (72%) are female; and 9 (23%) report being hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Epidemiologic and laboratory findings have linked the outbreak to contact with puppies sold through Petland stores. Among the 39 ill people, 12 are Petland employees from 4 states and 27 either recently purchased a puppy at Petland, visited a Petland, or visited or live in a home with a puppy sold through Petland before illness began.

Whole genome sequencing showed samples of Campylobacter isolated from the stool of puppies sold through Petland in Florida were closely related to Campylobacter isolated from the stool of an ill person in Ohio. Additional laboratory results from people and dogs are pending.

Regardless of where they are from, any puppies and dogs may carry Campylobacter germs. Read Advice to Pet Owners and Advice to Pet Store Workers for illness prevention tips.

Advice to Pet Owners

The bond between people and their pets can increase fitness, lower stress, and bring happiness to their owners. But pets, including puppies and dogs, sometimes carry germs that can make people sick. One of the diseases people can get from puppies and dogs is Campylobacter infection. Most infections affect one person at a time and are not part of a recognized outbreak.

Know the symptoms of a Campylobacter infection and what to do if you have a serious infection:

  • Most people with a Campylobacter infection develop symptoms 2 to 5 days after being exposed to the bacteria. Symptoms usually last about a week. The following are typical symptoms:
    • Diarrhea (that is often bloody)
    • Fever
    • Stomach cramps
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
  • People more likely to get a severe infection include:
    • People with weakened immune systems (such as people with the genetic blood disorder thalassemia or HIV or people receiving chemotherapy)
    • Children younger than 5 years
    • Adults 65 years and older
    • Pregnant women

Follow these steps when choosing a puppy or dog:

  • Pick a puppy or dog that is bright, alert, and playful. Puppies and dogs should have shiny, soft fur that is free of poop (feces).
  • Take your new puppy or dog to the veterinarian for a health check-up within a few days to a week after adoption.
  • More information on choosing and caring for a puppy or dog is available here.

Follow these steps if your puppy or dog is ill:

  • Contact your veterinarian. Signs of illness include appearing sluggish, not eating, diarrhea, and abnormal breathing. Keep in mind that even a dog that appears healthy might spread germs to people and other animals.
  • If your puppy or dog becomes sick or dies soon after purchase or adoption, take it to the veterinarian promptly, and inform the pet store, breeder, or rescue organization about your dog’s illness or death.
  • Thoroughly clean the area occupied by your ill pet. If your puppy died, consider waiting at least a few weeks before purchasing or adopting another pet to reduce the chance of spreading disease to your new pet.

Follow these steps to prevent the spreading of disease between people and puppies and dogs:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with running water and soap for at least 20 seconds every time you touch dogs, their food, or clean 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.
  • Pick up and dispose of dog poop, especially in areas where children might play. Use disposable gloves and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
  • Clean up any pee (urine), poop (stool), or vomit in the house immediately, and disinfect the area. Use disposable gloves to handle anything that has touched pee, poop, or vomit, and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
  • Take your dog to the veterinarian regularly to keep it healthy and to help prevent the spread of disease.
  • Don’t let pets lick around your mouth and face.
  • Don’t let pets lick your open wound or areas with broken skin.

Advice to Pet Store Workers

Puppies and dogs sometimes carry germs that can make people sick. One of the most common diseases people can get from puppies and dogs is Campylobacter infection.

Know the symptoms of a Campylobacter infection and what to do if you have a severe infection.

  • Most people with a Campylobacter infection develop symptoms 2 to 5 days after being exposed to the bacteria. Symptoms usually last about a week. The following are typical symptoms:
    • Diarrhea (that is often bloody)
    • Fever
    • Stomach cramps
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
  • People more likely to get a severe infection include:
    • People with weakened immune systems (such as people with the genetic blood disorder thalassemia or HIV or people receiving chemotherapy)
    • Children younger than 5 years
    • Adults 65 years and older
    • Pregnant women

Wash your hands.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with running water and soap for at least 20 seconds during these times:
    • Before and after eating
    • After using the toilet
    • After touching pets and other animals
    • After touching pet food and treats or food and water containers
    • After cleaning up pee (urine), poop (feces), or vomit
    • After touching raw food of animal origin
  • Dry hands using a clean paper towel or air-dry them. Do not dry hands on clothing.

Eat and store your food safely.

  • Always eat and drink in designated break areas away from places where animals roam or are caged and exercised.
  • Keep food for people away from areas where pet food and treats are stored, and where animals roam or are caged or exercised.

Play it safe with animals and their food.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after handling any pet food, including live or frozen rodents, raw meat, wet or dry food, and after touching feed and water containers.
  • Don’t let pets lick around your mouth and face.
  • Don’t let pets lick any of your open wounds or areas with broken skin.

Clean up messes safely.

  • Clean up any pee, poop, or vomit in the store immediately, and disinfect the area well.
  • Use disposable gloves for clean-ups, and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
  • Wash work shoes or boots, gloves, clothes, and equipment regularly.

Follow store protocols for identifying and reporting sick or injured animals.

Advice to Veterinarians

  • Veterinarians should provide education to clients with new puppies or dogs about the risks of acquiring Campylobacter or other zoonotic diseases from these pets.
  • Veterinarians should provide education to pet owners on how to properly clean up after their pets.

More information:

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