Alert: Bacteria in Pet Store Puppies

Dangerous Bacteria Spread by Pet Store Puppies -

Campylobacter, a bacterial infection that can spread from dogs to humans, has been found in pet store puppies recently in other states. Fifty-five people have fallen ill in 12 states from contact with Campylobacter infected puppies.

Though no Campylobacter illnesses have yet been reported in California, people considering purchasing dogs or puppies from pet stored should be aware of the signs and symptoms of Campylobacter. Pet breeders and pet stores often ship puppies from state to state – so the possibility of a Campylobacter outbreak in California or other states is possible.

What is Campylobacter?

Campylobacter is a common bacterial infection that can typically cause diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever. It is most dangerous in the elderly, young children and individuals with a compromised immune system.

Approximately 200,000 people in California are infected by Campylobacter each year.

Campylobacter can be spread by animals, sewage and also via raw, undercooked or improperly prepared food. In 2015, for example, the California Department of Public health identified an outbreak of Campylobacter resulting from unpasteurized milk and raw cream distributed from a California dairy farm.

Campylobacter from Pets

Campylobacter is usually easily treated with common oral antibiotics. However, in this recent outbreak of puppy-related Campylobacter, the CDC found that the strain of infection was antibiotic resistant. In other words, the antibiotics normally used to treat Campylobacter did not work in treating the infections contracted from the puppies.

Healthy individuals who were infected could still be treated with rest, fluids and electrolytes while the bacteria “ran its course”. But elderly, infant and immune-compromised individuals are at much greater risk of serious infection when antibiotics do not work. Fourteen people had to be hospitalized in this latest outbreak.

Puppies are popular Christmas pets – and Petland was the national pet store chain responsible for the outbreak. Campylobacter from puppies was found in Petland puppies sold in Florida, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Pet store practices are often not as hygienic as they could be, with lax sanitation and sometimes questionable cleaning procedures. If you are purchasing a dog, puppy or cat from a pet store this holiday season, be aware of the signs and symptoms of Campylobacter.

Signs and Symptoms of Campylobacter

Symptoms, of Campylobacter generally begin within two to five days of exposure to the bacteria.

The most common symptoms of Campylobacter in humans and pets are diarrhea, vomiting, fever, lethargy and dehydration.

Campylobacter is commonly confused with the flu. However, Campylobacter lasts about a week – which is longer than influenza.

Some people with strong immune factors do not experience any symptoms, so one person in a family may be ill while others are not.

Avoiding & Treating Campylobacter from Pets

To avoid the risk of Campylobacter contamination from your pet, the Center for Disease Control recommends that you wash your hands thoroughly after touching dogs or cleaning up after them. Children playing with puppies should also wash their hands carefully. Dog feces should be carefully removed and disposed of, especially in areas where children may play.

Contact your veterinarian if you see signs of illness in your puppy or dog – including diarrhea, vomiting, fever, lethargy or dehydration. Sometimes this symptoms may just be “something they ate” and sometimes these – but often this can be the sigh of a serious illness.

Similarly if you or a family member experience these flu-like symptoms for more than 24 hours, or if the symptoms are severe or non-stop, see your doctor immediately.

Both veterinarians and “human doctors” can do specialized testing to determine if you are infected – and which antibiotic is the best choice for you.

South Bay Area Best Veterinarian

If you are considering purchasing a puppy or other pet, our Veterinarians urge you to carefully consider the facility from which you purchase! Many pet stores have lax or questionable sanitation procedures that can lead to the spread of illnesses throughout their pets.

Shelters not only typically have stricter regulations and oversight – but also offer you the opportunity to save the life of an unwanted dog or cat!

Wherever you’ve found your furry friend, their health is our top priority at Manhattan Beach Animal Hospital. If you live anywhere in the South Bay area, call us any time you have a pet health question or concern!

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