The next dog you pick up could be carrying a dangerous infection.
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday that at least 30 people across 13 states have been infected with a drug-resistant bacteria, Campylobacter jejuni, linked to dogs at certain pet stores. At least four people have been hospitalized.
The bacteria can often cause diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps.
Of the 24 infected persons the agency interviewed, 21 were in some contact with a puppy and 15 held them at pet stores. Of those 15, 12 visited the national pet chain Petland.
The illnesses occurred between Jan. 6 and Nov. 10.
Petland did not immediately respond to a request for comment from FOX Business but in a statement said it “takes the health and welfare of employees, customers and pets very seriously” and that it has previously “implemented all recommended protocols from federal and state animal and public health officials to prevent human and puppy illness.”
It did point out, however, that only a small percentage of the illnesses can be linked directly to Petland, that more than one-third of the cases were found in states where there are no Petlands and that while the bacteria causing sickness does not appear to originate at any specific Petland store, it will “endeavor to determine the sources of infection.”
This is not the first time Campylobacter has been found at Petland locations, though. A bacterial outbreak spanning from 2016 to 2018 infected 113 people in 17 states.
The CDC said it sees more cases coming since “it takes [time] between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported.” The agency advises people to take some common-sense steps to stay healthy, like washing hands after handling a dog.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, drug-resistant infections cost the country more than $2 billion a year in hospitalizations and related costs.