"Siberian Husky Puppies 2013-05-25" by Jeffrey Beall is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Puppies From Commercial Dog Industry Source of Multistate Diarrhea Infections

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
"Siberian Husky Puppies 2013-05-25" by Jeffrey Beall is licensed under CC BY 2.0Mark Laughlin, DVM

Veterinary Medical Officer

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

How common are Campylobacter infections?  How does a Campylobacter infection typically present? 

Response: Campylobacter is one of the most common causes of diarrheal illness in the United States, causing an estimated 1.3 million illnesses each year. Most people with Campylobacter infection usually have diarrhea (often bloody), fever, and abdominal cramps. The diarrhea may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. These symptoms usually start within 2 to 5 days after exposure and last about a week.

Most illnesses from Campylobacter likely occur due to eating raw or undercooked poultry, or from eating something that touched raw or undercooked poultry. Some illnesses can occur from contact with contaminated water, contact with animals, or from drinking raw (unpasteurized) milk.

Since 2009, 13 outbreaks of human Campylobacter infections linked to contact with dogs have been reported to CDC. These outbreaks account for a reported 47 illnesses and 2 hospitalizations.

MedicalResearch.com:   What are the main findings?

Response: Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback evidence indicates that puppies sold through the commercial dog industry were the source of a multistate outbreak of multidrug-resistant Campylobacter infections investigated from 2017 to 2018. There were 118 ill people reported, including 29 pet store employees, from 18 states.

This  multidrug-resistant outbreak highlights the need for responsible use of antibiotics in pets. Education about best practices for Campylobacter disease prevention, diarrhea management in puppies, and responsible antibiotic use is essential to help prevent the emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance. Pet owners should be aware that any puppy or dog, regardless of where it is purchased or adopted, may carry germs like Campylobacter that can make people sick. Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching puppies and dogs and after picking up their poop. Take your dog to the veterinarian regularly to keep it healthy and to help prevent the spread of disease. 

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Regardless of where they are purchased or adopted, dogs of any age can carry and shed Campylobacter in their feces. However, puppies are more likely (than fully grown dogs) to be infected. Puppies and dogs can carry Campylobacter without any signs of illness.

Some possible signs of Campylobacter in a puppy or dog may be fever or diarrhea, which may be bloody. The diarrhea may be intermittent and may last for more than two weeks. People concerned about a puppy or dog that may have a Campylobacter infection should talk to their veterinarian.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

 Response:  Follow the steps below to prevent illness:

  • Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching your puppy or dog, after handling their food, and after cleaning up after them.
  • Adults should supervise handwashing for young children.
  •   If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer until you are able to wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Use disposable gloves to clean up after your puppy or dog, and wash your hands afterwards. Clean up any urine (pee), feces (poop), or vomit in the house immediately. Then disinfect the area using a water and bleach solution.
  • Don’t let pets lick around your mouth and face.
  • Don’t let pets lick your open wound or areas with broken skin.
  • Take your dog to the veterinarian regularly to keep it healthy and to help prevent the spread of disease.


Montgomery MP, Robertson S, Koski L, et al. Multidrug-Resistant Campylobacter jejuni Outbreak Linked to Puppy Exposure — United States, 2016–2018. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2018;67:1032–1035. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6737a3.

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Last Updated on September 26, 2018 by Marie Benz MD FAAD