Could man’s best friend be linked to a multidrug-resistant bacterial infection? According to a recent Center for Disease Control and Prevention report, the answer is yes.
Following a multi-state investigation by the CDC and state and local health and agriculture departments, the CDC announced 118 people — including 29 pet store workers — across 18 states were infected with the Campylobacter jejuni bacteria between January 2016 and February 2018. At least 26 people were hospitalized, though no deaths occurred.
In the report, the CDC said the source of the infection could be traced to puppies sold at pet stores. At least 105 of those sickened said they had been exposed to a dog before becoming ill, including 101 who said they had contact with a pet store puppy.
Humans are typically infected with Campylobacter bacteria by eating raw or undercooked poultry, or drinking water or eating other foods contaminated with the bacteria. An infection can also occur “through contact with the feces of a dog or cat,” the CDC said.
The infection can cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps, according to the CDC.
“This outbreak demonstrates that puppies can be a source of multidrug-resistant Campylobacter infections in humans, warranting a closer look at antimicrobial use in the commercial dog industry,” the CDC said in the report, which added “no single breeder, distributor, or transporter was identified as the infection source.”
Moving forward, the CDC said “hygiene and animal husbandry practices” could decrease the need for antibiotics, which some severe Campylobacter infections have been resistant to.
In fact, "store record reviews revealed that among 149 investigated puppies, 142 (95%) received one or more courses of antibiotics, raising concern that antibiotic use might have led to development of resistance," the health agency reported.
As for precautions, the CDC recommends washing hands before eating food, after using the restroom and following cleaning up after a pet or petting animals, among other suggestions.