Pet store puppies linked to outbreak making people sick, says CDC

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ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) – According to a new health report published Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the cute puppies in the window may be linked to an outbreak making people sick.

There are 30 reported cases of people infected with the outbreak strain of Campylobacter jejuni across 13 states, having sent four people to the hospital but not resulting in any deaths. Although no cases were found in the Commonwealth, neighboring Maryland, Tennessee, and Kentucky were all impacted.

The CDC has interviewed 24 people infected, half of whom were linked to national pet chain Petland. Nine others reported contact with a puppy not connected to the chain. You can read Petland’s full statement here.

Humans infected with Campylobacter developed diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps two to five days after being exposed to the bacteria, according to the CDC. Most people recovered in a week without antibiotic treatment.

“Campylobacter just isn’t one that we see on a regular basis,” said Vinton Veterinary Hospital’s Dr. Courtney Wiegard. “That being said, I just had a case of dogs who all broke out with it – there were eight of them in the house, they all were sick.”

She adds that no humans were infected in that case, but that she gave strict instructions to keep the area as clean as possible: washing hands, picking up pet waste and vomit quickly and safely, and being careful when preparing food.

The CDC offers the following advice to pet owners to prevent possible infection:

  • Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching your puppy or dog, after handling their food, and after cleaning up after them.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer until you are able to wash your hands with soap and water.
  • After cleaning up urine, poop, or vomit from your puppy or dog, disinfect the area using a water and bleach solution.
  • Don’t let dogs lick around your mouth and face.
  • Don’t let dogs lick your open wound or areas with broken skin.
  • When purchasing a puppy, take it to a veterinarian to ensure it is healthy.

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