CDC Says Puppies May Be Making People Sick

by Leah Groth
Originally Published: 
A cute Golden Retriever puppy with a red collar lying on the floor and yawning

The CDC released a statement this week, revealing that a serious illness has been spreading across the country and puppies (gasp!) are to blame

Puppies — in all shapes, sizes, breeds, and genders — are cute little fur balls that are pretty gosh-darn irresistible. Seriously, it’s sort of impossible not to scoop an adorable puppy up and give it a million kisses! (If you don’t agree, just check out these ultra cute puppy newborn shoots and you will be a convert.) However, according to the Centers for Disease Control, there is an illness making the rounds across the country right now, and it is being spread by puppies — mostly from pet stores.

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On December 17, the CDC issued a warning that they, along with public health officials in multiple states, are investigating a multi-state outbreak of Campylobacter jejuni — a type of food poisoning experienced by 1.5 million people in the United States every year –in this case linked to puppies purchased from pet stores. Even worse, is that the infection is resistant to multiple drugs.

Since January 2019, this strain of Campylobacter jejuni has been reported in 13 states with 30 people infected between the ages of eight months and 70 years-old. As of now, four have been hospitalized.

“Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicate that puppies purchased from pet stores are the likely source of this outbreak. Many of the cases had contact with puppies or were employees at pet stores, including Petland,” the CDC reports.

The government organization has interviewed 24 people so far, and of those, 21 reported contact with a puppy, 15 reported contact with a puppy from a pet store, 12 of the 15 people were linked to Petland, and 5 were employees of the national pet store chain. It isn’t known where the disease-spreading puppies originated, as the CDC has yet to identify the breeder or supplier.

However, in a statement released December 16, Petland did point out that over a third of the cases were reported in 13 states where there are no Petland stores. Additionally, more than 12 million guests visit their stores annually. During the time mentioned by the CDC, the store estimates more than 2.4 million customer socializations of Petland puppies. So, the chances of getting sick from one of their puppies is very slim.

Obviously, the CDC isn’t encouraging you to avoid puppies at all costs. Instead, they have some tips on how to keep yourself healthy while enjoying the cuteness that puppies have to offer.

First and foremost, always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or use sanitizer, especially after handling your pooch or their food. If you have kids, make sure they do the same. Same goes with cleaning up their pee, poop, or vomit, and if they happen to do their deeds inside of your home, clean it up immediately then disinfect the area with water and bleach.

Here’s the hard part: they say not to let dogs lick around your mouth and face — something most dogs can’t help themselves from doing. Also, don’t let them lick open wounds or areas with broken skin.

Keep in mind, that if you do have a puppy who isn’t from a pet store, you are likely in the clear, as the CDC points out that most of the puppies infecting humans originated at pet stores. However, if your puppy is showing any signs of illness, being them to the vet asap. And, if you start to experience symptoms, such as diarrhea (often bloody), fever, and stomach cramps two to five days after petting a puppy, you might want to get yourself to the doctor. The illness usually lasts around week but sometimes longer.

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