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Sixteen more infected by puppy-linked disease, CDC says

Sixteen more Americans have been diagnosed with an infection linked to cuddling puppies, CDC officials have warned.

The agency issued a warning about Campylobacter on September 11 amid a surge in cases sweeping the United States.

More than three weeks later, officials warn they are struggling to contain the virus, which has now infected at least 55 people across the country.  

Thirteen of those infected were hospitalized to treat severe diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, fever and cramping. No deaths have been reported. 

The new cases were identified in Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Utah and Wyoming. Previously, the virus had been detected in seven states: Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin. 

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are urging citizens to report any cases, and have issues guidelines for dog lovers on how to stay safe. 

Campylobacter can cause diarrhea, vomiting and fever in dogs, but symptoms aren’t always apparent or obvious. Humans suffer similar symptoms, as well as cramping, nausea and bloody stool.  

Coping with Campylobacter 

The CDC has advised pet owners to take particular care to clean up after their dogs and wash their hands thoroughly. The notice also suggests animal lovers turn down puppy kisses, and keep them from licking open wounds. 

Catching Campylobacter: symptoms to watch for 

Sypmtoms include: 

  • Diarrhea, sometimes with blood
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Cramping

How to protect yourself:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly after touching dogs, their poop, or their food. Take extra care that children playing with puppies also wash their hands carefully
  • Pick up and dispose of dog poop, especially in areas where children might play
  • Contact your veterinarian if you notice any signs of illness in your puppy or dog 

Though unpleasant, the infection usually runs its course without antibiotics, though they are used to treat some cases. The most important thing to coping with a Campylobacter infection is to stay hydrated. 

The CDC said that its investigation into the outbreak’s origin is ongoing, and that Petland is cooperating.

Know your animal ailments 

Campylobacter is the most common illness that humans contract from both dogs and cats, according to the CDC. People also frequently get various types of worms and rabies from their dogs, and cats can come with trouble too. 

Last year, the CDC reported that cats, and particularly kittens were increasingly spreading the second-most common disease given to people by their cats: the infamous ‘cat-scratch fever.’

The disease comes from a bacteria in cats’ mouths and claws, called Bartonella henselae. It doesn’t cause any health problems for the infected felines, but can cause lymph node swelling, fever, and even brain swelling, heart infections and death in humans. 

The Campylobacter outbreak notice reminded both pet store employees and pet owners that the best way to prevent the spread of pet-borne disaeases is to be vigilant in keeping animals, their food, water and living space clean.

Stay happy AND healthy with your pet

The CDC still stood by man’s best friend (and favorite felines): ‘The bond between people and their pets can increase fitness, lower stress, and bring happiness to their owners,’ the notice said. 

But the agency urged potential adopters to ‘pick a puppy or dog that is bright, alert, and playful,’ and to have a vet make sure the new family member has a clean bill of health.