CDC: Multistate infection outbreak linked to Petland puppies

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating a multistate outbreak of human Campylobacter infections linked to puppies sold through national pet store chain, Petland.

Campylobacter can be dispersed through contact with dog feces, but usually does not spread from one person to another, according to health inspectors.

39 people impacted by the outbreak have laboratory-confirmed Campylobacter infections or symptoms consistent with the bacteria.

The 39 people exposed to the infection live in seven states: Tennessee, Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. 12 of the 39 people are Petland employees from four states. 27 of the 39 people either recently purchased a puppy from Petland, visited a Petland, or visited or lived in a home with a puppy sold through Petland.

The CDC's case count map provided the number of people in each affected state with confirmed or probable Campylobacter.

State: Tennessee
Case Count: 1

State: Florida
Case Count: 11

State: Kansas
Case Count: 5

State: Missouri
Case Count: 1

State: Ohio
Case Count: 18

State: Pennsylvania
Case Count: 2

State: Wisconsin
Case Count: 1

The CDC said the Petland stores are the source of the outbreak, citing epidemiologic and laboratory evidence. Authorities said Petland is cooperating with public health and animal health officials to address the outbreak.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from September 15, 2016 through August 12, 2017. The most recent sickness was reported on September 1, 2017.

The investigation by the Ohio Department of Health, several other states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is ongoing.

The full outbreak notice and advice for pet owners can be found HERE.

In a statement released to Local 8 News, Petland said the CDC "has not identified any failures of Petland's operating system that would lead to any campylobacter infection."

The statement continued: "The CDC stated that 'regardless of where they came from, any puppy and dog' can carry the germ. However, Petland is the only national source of puppies that can trace a puppy from its new owner back to its original kennel. Petland is proud of our commitment to quality controls and record keeping and we are happy to help the CDC in this new endeavor."

Petland said the CDC had advised the company to "continue to do what we are already doing."