(KFVS) - A multi-state outbreak of Campylobacter infection is linked to puppies sold through a national pet store chain.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, as of October 3, a total of 55 people with confirmed infections or symptoms consistent with the infection have been linked to the outbreak. Those people live in 12 states including Florida, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
The CDC reports that 14 people are Petland employees from five states, 35 people either recently bought a puppy at Petland, visited a Petland or visited or lived in a home with a puppy sold through Petland before the illness began.
The people ranged in age from less than a year old to 86 years old. Sixty-nine percent were female and 24 percent report being hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
According to the CDC, Petland is cooperating with public health and animal health officials to address the outbreak.
The CDC says Campylobacter can spread through contact with dog feces. It usually does not spread from one person to another, however, activities such as changing an infected person's diapers or sexual contact with an infected person can lead to infection.
Symptoms of a Campylobacter infection include:
- Most people develop symptoms 2-5 days after exposure and symptoms usually last about a week
- Diarrhea (that is often bloody)
- Stomach cramps
People with weakened immune systems, children younger than five years old, adults older than 65 years old and pregnant women are more likely to get a severe infection.
The CDC recommends these steps to prevent spreading the 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
- Pick up and dispose of dog feces, especially in areas where children might play. Use disposable gloves and wash your hands thoroughly afterward
- Clean up any urine, feces or vomit in the house immediately and disinfect the area
- 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
Regardless of where they come from, the CDC reports puppies and dogs may carry Campylobacter germs.
The CDC recommends these steps when choosing a puppy or a dog:
- Pick a puppy or dog that is bright, alert and playful. Puppies and dogs should have shiny, soft fur that is free of feces
- Take your new puppy or dog to the vet for a health check-up within a few days to a week after adoption