Antibiotic Resistant Infection Linked To "Puppy Exposure" Was Found In 18 States, According To The CDC

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According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an antibiotic resistant infection linked to "puppy exposure" was found in 118 people across 18 states. The CDC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) investigated the outbreak in multiple states, and suggest that while the investigation is now closed, the public is advised to understand the health risks that are sometimes associated with handling dogs and puppies. States affected by the outbreak include Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, according to CNN.

CNN reports that Campylobacter is a bacterial infection that can cause fevers, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. The outbreak was traced to contact with puppies from January 2017 through February 2018, and 23 people were hospitalized. Those affected by the outbreak ranged in age from less than one year to 86, and all showed resistance to antibiotics commonly used to treat this infection, according to CNN. Fortunately, no deaths have been reported in connection to this outbreak. CNN further reports that most people infected with Campylobacter can recover without treatment within about five days. In rare cases, however, the illness can lead to complications such as paralysis, and is sometimes fatal. Campylobacter infections usually run their course in healthy people, but those with weakened immune systems, such as infants, the elderly, and those with serious illnesses like cancer, are most at risk for complications from the bacteria, according to CNN.

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TIME also notes that Campylobacter infections affect about one million people in the U.S. annually, and in addition to contact with infected animals, it can also be spread by eating or drinking contaminated food and water. The CDC reports that people coming into contact with commercially sold animals might be more at risk of infection, and that appropriate precautions should be taken when handling animals sold in pet stores. Per TIME, 105 of the 118 people infected with the bacteria reported being exposed to dogs before getting sick, while 101 had handled a pet shop puppy — 29 were pet store employees.

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No single breeder was linked to the pet shop Campylobacter outbreak, according to CBS News, though Petland stores were originally linked to the infections per the CDC’s report. CBS further notes that investigators found that more than half of the puppies examined were treated with prophylactic antibiotics either before arriving at the pet shops, or while there. Public health officials say that this practice, which is common in commercial animal breeding industries, is leading to increasing rates of antibiotic resistance.

The CDC states that even though Campylobacter infections from animals are rare, some precautions are recommended for people interacting with dogs and puppies. Make sure to always wash your hands after cleaning up your dog’s waste, after playing, and after handling your dog’s food and treats. Children should also be reminded to wash their hands after playing with dogs and puppies. And make sure to contact your veterinarian if you notice any signs of sickness in your dog.