Puppies Are 'Likely Source' of Outbreak That Has Sickened Dozens in US

A puppy lying down on the floor.
(Image credit: Ezzolo/Shutterstock)

Could that doggy in the window make you sick?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced today (Sept. 11) that it is investigating an outbreak of Campylobacter — a type of bacteria that causes diarrhea — linked with puppies sold at Petland stores, a national pet store chain.

So far, the outbreak has sickened 39 people in seven states (Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin), the CDC said.

Of those who became ill, 12 are Petland employees, and 27 came into contact with puppies sold at Petland because they recently bought a puppy at Petland, visited a Petland, or visited or lived in a home with a puppy sold through Petland, the CDC said.

All of the illnesses occurred within the past year, and the most recent illness was reported on Sept. 1, 2017. [11 Ways Your Beloved Pet May Make You Sick]

Those infected ranged in age from less than a year to 64 years, and nine people were hospitalized. So far, no deaths have been tied to the outbreak.

Puppies sold at Petland are a "likely source" of this outbreak, and officials are working to stop its spread, the CDC said.

Symptoms of a Campylobacter infection usually begin within two to five days of exposure to the bacteria and include diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting.

Campylobacter is one of the most common infections that people can catch from dogs, the CDC said. But usually, when people get sick from their pet, it's an isolated case that's not part of a larger outbreak.

People can catch Campylobacter through contact with dog feces; even ingesting minuscule amounts can lead to infection. The infection does not usually spread from person to person, the CDC said.

To prevent the spread of pathogens or diseases from dogs to people, the CDC recommends washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water every time you have contact with dogs, their food or their messes —including dog poop, pee and vomit. You should also take your pet to the veterinarian for regular checkups to keep it healthy, CDC officials advised. Signs of illness in dogs include sluggishness, loss of appetite, diarrhea and abnormal breathing, according to the CDC.

Original article on Live Science.

Rachael Rettner

Rachael is a Live Science contributor, and was a former channel editor and senior writer for Live Science between 2010 and 2022. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.