Ill­nesses in 13 states may be tied to pup­pies, of­fi­cials say

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NATION & WORLD - By Han­nah Knowles

WASH­ING­TON — An ill­ness re­sis­tant to mul­ti­ple drugs that’s hit 13 states and led to four hos­pi­tal­iza­tions is prob­a­bly spread by the cutest of cul­prits, health of­fi­cials say.

The ev­i­dence points to pup­pies.

Thirty peo­ple have re­ported in­fec­tions as of last week, ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion, which says the out­break seems to stem mostly from dogs pur­chased at pet shops. About 70% of those sick­ened re­ported con­tact with a pet store puppy.

No sin­gle sup­plier has been con­nected to cases of the ill­ness, which of­ten in­volves bloody di­ar­rhea and can be trans­mit­ted through an­i­mal fe­ces.

But in­ves­ti­ga­tions link 12 peo­ple af­fected to Pet­land, a na­tional chain im­pli­cated in a pre­vi­ous spate of puppy-re­lated ill­ness in­volv­ing the same kind of bac­te­ria, Campy­lobac­ter. Five of those 12 peo­ple were Pet­land em­ploy­ees, the CDC said.

Ohio-based Pet­land, which lists about 80 lo­ca­tions across the coun­try, said in a state­ment that it has worked since the last out­break to put in place all rec­om­men­da­tions from fed­eral and state an­i­mal and pub­lic health of­fi­cials.

Those pro­to­cols, the com­pany said, in­clude manda­tory san­i­tary train­ing for all em­ploy­ees, prom­i­nent sig­nage and mul­ti­ple san­i­ta­tion sta­tions in stores and other mea­sures to ed­u­cate staff and cus­tomers. Pet­land says it has also changed “an­i­mal hus­bandry and san­i­ta­tion prac­tices” and asked its vet­eri­nar­i­ans to use mi­crobe-tar­get­ing sub­stances ju­di­ciously, amid con­cerns about drug re­sis­tance.

“Pet­land takes the health and wel­fare of our em­ploy­ees, our cus­tomers and our pets very se­ri­ously,” the com­pany said, not­ing that more than a third of re­ported cases in the new out­break in­volve peo­ple in states where Pet­land has no stores.

Fed­eral health of­fi­cials said last year that pup­pies sold through Pet­land, which has drawn crit­ics for its use of com­mer­cial breed­ers, were a likely source of the out­break that sick­ened 113 peo­ple across 17 states and re­sulted in 23 hos­pi­tal­iza­tions.

The United States sees about 1.5 mil­lion Campy­lobac­ter cases ev­ery year. The ill­ness of­ten comes from eat­ing raw or un­der­cooked poul­try or some­thing it made con­tact with — but it can also spread through a range of other foods, un­treated wa­ter and an­i­mals, the CDC states.

In­fec­tion symp­toms for hu­mans, be­yond di­ar­rhea, in­clude fever and stom­ach cramps two to five days af­ter ex­po­sure, ac­cord­ing to the CDC, which says most peo­ple re­cover in a week with­out an­tibi­otics. But peo­ple who fall very ill or have se­ri­ously weak­ened im­mune sys­tems may need those drugs, it says.

Anal­y­sis shows that the lat­est puppy-linked in­fec­tions in­volve ge­net­i­cally re­lated bac­te­ria, sug­gest­ing a com­mon source of in­fec­tion, the CDC said. It’s also ge­net­i­cally re­lated to the multi-drug re­sis­tant bac­te­ria of the old out­break, which be­gan in 2016 and lasted into 2018.

The newer ill­nesses ran from Jan. 6 to Nov. 10 of this year, the CDC says. Those sick­ened are as young as eight months and as old as 70 years, with a me­dian age of 34.

The CDC is not aware of any deaths, though it notes that some ill­nesses may not be re­ported yet.

Fed­eral of­fi­cials are ad­vis­ing peo­ple to wash their hands af­ter touch­ing their dog, han­dling the an­i­mal’s food or clean­ing up af­ter them. They warned against let­ting dogs lick peo­ples’ mouths, faces or open wounds.

Pet own­ers should also get a health exam for their dog within days of bring­ing them home, the CDC said. And any­one who re­al­ized their dog is sick soon af­ter pur­chase or adop­tion should go to a vet­eri­nar­ian, no­tify the group they got their pet from and clean places their pet oc­cu­pied with wa­ter and bleach.

Dogs may have fallen ill if they seem lethar­gic, aren’t eat­ing, have di­ar­rhea or breathe ab­nor­mally, the agency said. But an­i­mals can also ap­pear healthy and clean while car­ry­ing the germs mak­ing peo­ple sick, it em­pha­sized.


The ill­nesses are from Jan. 6 to Nov. 10, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion.

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