If you’ve spent time with a puppy purchased from the chain store Petland, you may be spending extra time in the bathroom.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued a statement that an outbreak of human Campylobacter infections has been reportedly linked to puppies sold at Petland, a chain of pet stores based in Ohio.
Campylobacter is an infectious disease linked to bacteria from, in this case, puppy poop. So far, 39 people across seven states have been sickened by symptoms that include diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, vomiting, and fever.
A dozen of these cases are Petland employees and the rest were from people who visited a Petland, purchased a puppy there, or live in home with a puppy from Petland. The disease is not usually spread human to human. So far, nine people have been hospitalized, but no deaths have resulted.
Petland issued a statement saying that the CDC has found no fault with Petland’s operating system that would lead to this outbreak. They reinforce proper hand sanitation among their employees and the stores have numerous sanitation stations.
The symptoms usually last around a week, but the CDC reports that people with a weakened immune system are more likely to get a severe infection as well as children younger than 5 years old, adults older than 65 years old, and pregnant women.
The CDC recommends taking any puppy to a veterinarian for a checkup within a few days after bringing him home. If your puppy shows signs of illness, including a sluggish appearance, lack of appetite, diarrhea, and abnormal breathing, take him to a veterinarian as soon as you can.
Preventive measures include washing your hands thoroughly with running water and soap at least 20 seconds after you touch dogs, their food, and clean up after them. Make sure to pick up and dispose of dog poop using a poop bag or disposable gloves, and wash your hands afterwards. The CDC also advises not letting your dog lick your mouth, face, open wounds, or broken skin.
For dog lovers, this may seem over the top and unrealistic. Just wash your hands when you come in from walking your dog, especially if you’ve been petting dogs you don’t know. Take your dog to the vet if you notice any symptoms. And don’t buy a puppy from a pet store, as many come from puppy mills, otherwise known as breeders who focus on profit over happiness and health of their dogs.
It’s notable that while Petland claims to be “the only national source of puppies that can trace a puppy from its new owner back to its original kennel,” The Humane Society of the United States released an exposé in 2009 that linked more than 95 percent of Petland puppies to puppy mills.