Campylobacter outbreak linked to Petland puppies, CDC says

39 cases reported in 7 states, including Ohio

CINCINNATI -- Could that adorable new puppy make you sick?

Maybe, if you somehow get their poop in your mouth.

State and federal officials are investigating an outbreak of Campylobacter infections they've linked to puppies sold through Petland, a national pet store chain with locations in the Tri-State.

The infection is caused by bacteria, and any puppy or dog can carry the germ in their poop. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the outbreak includes 39 people, all of them exposed to puppies sold through Petland stores.

Ohio had 18 cases; the next-highest was Florida, with 11. Kansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin also reported cases.

Twelve cases are Petland employees from four states, the CDC said; the rest either recently purchased a puppy at Petland, visited a Petland store, or visited or live in a home with a puppy sold through Petland before they got sick.

Petland, based in Chillicothe, Ohio, has locations in Fairfield and Hillsboro. Elizabeth Kunzelman, the company's director of public affairs, said the company gave the CDC "complete access to our stores, our staff, our consulting veterinarians, our operating procedures and our pets."

"The CDC has not identified any failures of Petland's operating system that would lead to any campylobacter infection," Kunzelman said in a statement.

Pet owners should:

  • practice good hand-washing, using running water and soap for at least 20 seconds, each time they touch their dog, the dog's food or clean up after them.
  • pick up and dispose of dog poop, especially in areas where children might play, using disposable gloves and washing hands afterward.
  • clean up any pee, poop or vomit in the house immediately and disinfect the area, using disposable gloves and washing hands afterward.
  • take pets to the veterinarian regularly.

Dogs shouldn't be allowed to lick around a person's face and mouth, or around wounds or broken skin.

Campylobacter infections usually don't spread from one person to another and is one of the most common causes of diarrhea-related illness in the U.S.

Symptoms can also include:

  • fever
  • stomach cramps
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • fever

The illness typically lasts about a week. Some people who are infected won't have any symptoms.

The bacteria occasionally spreads to the bloodstream and causes a serious life-threatening infection for some groups:

  • people with compromised immune systems
  • children under age 5
  • adults 65 and older
  • pregnant women
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