Pets

That adorable pet-store puppy you just cuddled could make you violently ill

Campylobacter, a bacteria causing diarrhea, fever and vomiting and is usually confined to animals, has infected 55 people in 12 states. The outbreak traces to puppies from pet store chain Petland.
Campylobacter, a bacteria causing diarrhea, fever and vomiting and is usually confined to animals, has infected 55 people in 12 states. The outbreak traces to puppies from pet store chain Petland. File

A 12-state outbreak, stretching from Wyoming to Florida, of diarrhea-and-vomit-inducing Campylobacter is connected to puppies sold through national pet store chain Petland, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The bacterial illness, much more common among animals, usually hits humans as isolated incidents, the CDC website explains. Person-to-person transmission requires a “large volume of diarrhea.”

But as of Tuesday, 55 people were infected over 12 states with Ohio (22) and Florida (13) accounting for 63.6 percent of the known infections nationally.

“Outbreaks of Campylobacter have most often been associated with unpasteurized dairy products, contaminated water, poultry, and produce,” the CDC says. “Animals can also be infected, and some people get infected from contact with the stool of an ill dog or cat.”

And that’s where the trail leads to puppies from Petland, a chain with 77 locations across the country, three in Broward County and nine throughout Florida.

The CDC’s breakdown of the infected says 35 people, before getting sick, recently purchased a Petland puppy, visited a Petland, visited or live in a home with a Petland puppy. Another 14 people are Petland employees. One person had sex with a person whose Campylobacter is traced to Petland. Four people were exposed to puppies from various places.

Of the 55, 13 have been hospitalized.

“Most people who become ill with campylobacteriosis get diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever within two to five days after exposure to the organism,” the CDC says. “The diarrhea may be bloody and can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. The illness typically lasts about one week. Some infected persons do not have any symptoms. In persons with compromised immune systems, Campylobacter occasionally spreads to the bloodstream and causes a serious life-threatening infection.”

No deaths have been reported yet.

As reported in USA Today,Petland’s the defendant in a pending federal court class action suit that alleges racketeering and knowingly selling sick puppies.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal

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