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Pet store puppies have spread an antibiotic-resistant illness to over 100 people, CDC says

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning people that pet store puppies are likely to blame for a break-out of antibiotic-resistant Campylobacter that has infected 118 people since January 2016.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning people that pet store puppies are likely to blame for a break-out of antibiotic-resistant Campylobacter that has infected 118 people since January 2016. AP

Puppies might be cute — but they can also infect you with a nasty, antibiotic-resistant illness that has sent at least 26 people to the hospital, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Between January 2016 and February 2018, the CDC estimates that pet store puppies caused 118 people to fall ill with Campylobacter, which infects around 1.3 million Americans every year who experience diarrhea, vomiting, headaches and abdominal pain as a result.

Of those infected, 29 were employees at a pet store — and 99 percent of those infected reported being exposed to a dog, the CDC says.

Ninety-five percent of those who fell ill said they had encountered a dog in a pet store, the CDC reported. People in 18 states were infected.

Those infected from the puppies appeared to have a form of Campylobacter that was resistant to all antibiotics usually used to stop the illness.

That could be because a majority of the dogs were given antibiotics, causing the bacteria to develop a resistance to the drugs. According to the CDC, 95 percent of the dogs they examined at 20 pet stores across the U.S. had received at least one course of antibiotics.

And of those puppies, around half had been given antibiotics as a preventive measure instead of when they were sick, the CDC found.

An animated video from 2013 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlights the key points and graphics of the "Antibiotic Threats in the United States" report.

The CDC said those revelations raised concerns “that antibiotic use might have led to development of resistance.”

“This outbreak demonstrates that puppies can be a source of multidrug-resistant Campylobacter infections in humans,” the CDC wrote, “warranting a closer look at antimicrobial use in the commercial dog industry.”

No one died from this outbreak, which the CDC linked to six unidentified pet stores, 25 breeders and eight distributors.

As noted by CNN, the CDC had earlier revealed that the national pet store chain Petland was a source of a drug-resistant outbreak of Campylobacter.

Elizabeth Kunzelman, director of public affairs for the company, told CNN in a statement that “the CDC had no new recommendations for Petland other than to continue our established practice of in-store hand sanitization and education.”

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