The CDC Says Puppies Are Spreading An Antibiotic-Resistant Infection

A brown puppy peaks out of a carboard box, resting their paws on the front and looking to the side. ...
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If you’ve been considering dropping by your local pet store to pick up a puppy for your loved one (or yourself, let’s be honest) this holiday season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says you might want to think again. Over the past year, an outbreak of an infection that is resistant to multiple drugs has been growing, CNN reports. The CDC says that puppies from pet stores may be spreading the infection.

According to the CDC, 30 people across 13 states have been infected with a strain of Campylobacter jejuni, which is one of the most common bacterial causes of food poisoning. The multi-state infection hasn’t been linked to a single source of cute furballs, but the CDC strongly suspects that the outbreak is being spread by pet store pups. Of the 30 humans infected, the CDC interviewed 24. Of those interviewed, 88% reported contact with a puppy, and 71% of those who’d been in contact with puppies had specifically been in contact with furry four-leggeds from pet stores.

Further investigation revealed that 12 of the 30 people infected had interacted with puppies at Petland, a popular pet store chain, and five of those people are Petland employees. Petland released a statement about the outbreak on Dec. 16, saying that the chain is following all recommended protocols to prevent the spread of the illness. Moreover, the chain notes, "More than one third of the cases have been found in people in 13 states where there are no Petland stores — including Utah, Wyoming, Minnesota, and Maryland.

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Four of the 30 infected humans were hospitalized, and the CDC has reported no deaths related to the infections. However, initial laboratory testing indicates that this particular strain of Campylobacter jejuni is resistant to the most commonly recommended antibiotics. Therefore, the CDC is recommending patient-specific testing to determine which, if any, antibiotics would be most effective for each infected individual. Even so, the CDC said that rehydration should help most patients successfully ride through the infection.

If you’ve recently been in contact with a young furball, especially from a pet store, and have been experiencing diarrhea, stomach cramps, or fever, the CDC says you should recover within about a week without the help of antibiotics. However, if your symptoms seem severe, seeking medical treatment would be a good idea. If you do have contact with puppies — whether your own or if you work in a pet store — the CDC recommends frequently washing your hands with soap and water, as well as keeping your food stored safely away from your furry friend, and avoiding letting them lick your face. If your puppy seems lethargic, the CDC advises taking them to their veterinarian right away to make sure they’re OK.

If you or your puppy seems infected, the CDC says it would help if you inform the pet store, rescue, or breeder that sent your puppy home with you, as this information would help CDC better track where the infection is coming from. Because the sooner the CDC knows where the infection is coming from, the sooner you and your puppy can go back to all kinds of pup-related frivolity.