Federal and state health officials are investigating an outbreak of human Campylobacter infection linked to puppies sold at or through Petland, a pet store chain with retail locations in several states.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Petland Campylobacter outbreak has infected 39 people in seven states: Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin. Those are only confirmed infections, and as outbreaks of pet-to-person illnesses go, many cases almost certainly go unreported.
Of the confirmed infections, a dozen are employees of Petland stores in four states and 27 either purchased a puppy at Petland, visited or live in a home with a puppy purchased at Petland, or just visited a Petland. Nine of the infections resulted in hospitalization, but there have been no reported deaths.
When ingested, the Campylobacter bacteria can cause gastrointestinal illness in humans with symptoms of diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, vomiting, and fever. Infections normally last about a week and symptoms appear within two to five days after exposure.
Children younger than 5, adults older than 65, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems are most at risk for developing a severe infection.
The illnesses associated with the current Petland Campylobacter outbreak started around Sept. 15, 2016, to the present, with the most recent illness reported on Sept. 1.
The CDC says Petland is cooperating with health officials to address the outbreak, but the company has once again fallen under harsh criticism for its allegedly inhumane pet-sourcing policies and its refusal to be held accountable for its alleged role in inhumane pet mills and outbreaks of disease linked to unhealthy pets.
In a statement, Petland said the company is “proud of our commitment to quality controls and record keeping and we are happy to help the CDC in this new endeavor,” noting that any dog or puppy can carry the germ.
According to The Street, Petland offered up a variety of “shameful” and “silly” statements in its defense that the puppies sold through its stores are the source of the outbreak:
“…According to the CDC, the only way a human can contract campylobacter from a dog is by dog fecal matter (poop) being placed in the human’s mouth,” the company said, according to The Street, ignoring the fact that it’s normal for puppies to lick themselves, other dogs, and people who hold them.
The Street also noted that Petland also took a Trump-like defense, suggesting it is the victim of media attacks and dubious government investigations.
“… Petland finds itself the focus of a national inquiry from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state health departments with hundreds of media reports targeting Petland alone while Petland remains in the dark on any information related to these 39 cases.”