I was talking to someone today about their new puppy, their puppy’s diarrhea and (take a guess) the fact that they developed diarrhea shortly thereafter. Odds are pretty good that puppy and owner both have campylobacteriosis. While this infection isn’t related to the ongoing US multistate Campylobacter outbreak linked to puppies from Petland stores, it’s a good lead-in.

CDCs final update on the Petland puppy outbreak doesn’t provide too much new information, but it shows how extensive and persistent the problem is:

  • The number of reported cases is up to 97. When you consider that a vast majority of cases are probably un-reported, the real number is presumably in the hundreds.
  • Cases have been identified in 17 states.
  • 24% of the 91 people that have been followed have been hospitalized. That’s a pretty impressive number. Fortunately (and not particularly surprisingly for Campy), there have been no reported deaths.
  • 90% of interviewed people reported contact with a puppy from Petland or contact with a person that got sick after contact with a Petland puppy.
  • As reported previously, the strain involved is resistant to many different antibiotics, complicating treatment.

The last reported case began Oct 23. The CDC has closed this investigation, but points out that cases could continue to occur because people may be unaware of the risk of Campylobacter infections from puppies and dogs.  Campylobacter is a common bacterium in young puppies and contact with puppies (beyond the outbreak) is a well recognized risk factor for people getting diarrhea. So, control of this outbreak isn’t going to eliminate the risk of campylobacteriosis from puppies. However, the number of cases linked to this pet chain is remarkable.  Hopefully the source has been controlled at this point.

Campylobacteriosis is in my “don’t eat poop” disease category, and prevention is focused on basic hygiene and fecal handling practices. More information about Campylobacter can be found on the Worms & Germs Resources – Pets page.