Bacterial Epidemic in 7 U.S. States Linked to Pet-store Puppies, finds CDC

Published Date : Sep 12, 2017

A U.S. multistate outbreak of Campylobacter infections has been investigated by federal health officials who found a possible connection with dog puppies available at a nationwide 80 pet store chain, Petland. The diarrheal illness bacteria has affected nearly 39 people in seven states, viz. Florida, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Missouri, Kansas, and Ohio. Although no deaths have been reported till date, nine have already been hospitalized since September 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC has stated that epidemiological findings and lab tests have revealed a link between the illnesses and Petland based in Ohio.

Pet Stores Criticized for Sourcing Puppies from Commercial Breeding Operations

27 of the sickened people in the seven states could have either visited a home having a Petland-bought puppy or one of the Petland stores or purchased a Petland puppy, whereas 12 of them are Petland employees. Over 200 counties and cities have enforced laws that ban pet shops from vending puppy mill puppies. Petland is a major chain in the U.S. that vends dogs from commercial breeders, which have been largely targeted by animal protection groups.

Petland had faced a class-action lawsuit filed by the Animal Legal Defense Fund in July for allegedly “guaranteeing” customers about puppies it knew were susceptible to sicknesses and other defects. Joe Watson, chief executive at Petland, has rejected the allegations made by Matthew Liebman, director of litigation at the Animal Legal Defense Fund, calling them as “baseless and tired.” However, Watson agreed that the vets at Petland may not have tested puppies for Campylobacter until they showed symptoms. He has also said that the CDC has no changes or recommendations to Petland’s processes.

Brittany Behm, a CDC spokesperson, has stated that the agency estimates a 1.3 million Campylobacter cases to occur each year, out of which two-thirds are food-borne while the remaining ones involve animals and other sources. Ohio or Florida could be the most affected states during the present outbreak.