The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday revealed that it is currently conducting investigations of a multistate outbreak of campylobacter infections linked to contact with puppies sold from national pet store chain Petland.
Campylobacteriosis is a bacterial infection that can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea and fever. The symptoms often show up between two and five days following contact with the bacteria. Some people do not show signs of illness but for those who do, the symptoms last for about a week.
Many cases go unreported but the CDC said that there are about 14 cases of the illness for every 100,000 people that occur each year. The illness, which occurs more frequently in the summer months, is estimated to affect more than 1.3 million people annually.
Most patients recover within five days without treatment but drinking more fluids is recommended. In rare instances, infection may lead to complications such as paralysis and death. Those with weakened immune systems such as the elderly, infants and those suffering from severe illness are the most likely to suffer from serious infection.
"In persons with compromised immune systems, Campylobacter occasionally spreads to the bloodstream and causes a serious life-threatening infection," the CDC said. "Although Campylobacter infection does not commonly cause death, it has been estimated that approximately 76 persons with Campylobacter infections die each year."
As of Monday, Sept. 11, 39 people have been sickened in seven states, which include Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin. The first case of this outbreak happened on Sept. 15, 2016.
Twenty-eight of the 39 sickened are female and 12 are employees of Petland. The ages of the patients range from younger than 1 year old to 64 years old.
Twenty-seven of the patients either recently bought a puppy at Petland, visited the pet store, or went or live in a home with a puppy bought from Petland.
"Epidemiologic and laboratory findings have linked the outbreak to contact with puppies sold through Petland stores," the CDC said in a statement.
Petland Claims To Observe Strict Kennel Sanitation Protocols
Petland spokesperson Elizabeth Kunzelman said that health authorities have not identified failures in the company's operating system that would lead to campylobacter infection. Kunzelman said that Petland has a sanitation station in each of its stores and observes strict kennel sanitation protocols and procedures.
The CDC noted that regardless of where a puppy comes from, there is the potential it carries a campylobacter infection. Petland chief executive, Joe Watson, said that they take every precaution possible to ensure the health of their pets.