Of course, puppies are playful and cute, but some have spread a not-so-fun drug-resistant infection to humans. Caused by the Campylobacter jejuni bacteria, the infection is characterized by fever, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps in both humans and dogs.
Recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Over the course of two years, 118 people in 18 states, including 29 pet-store employees, have been sickened by the Campylobacter jejuni bacteria, and about 25% of these people have been hospitalized. Representatives from the US Department of Health and Human Services interviewed those who became ill, and nearly all reported that they either had contact with a puppy the week before they became sick or had been in contact with someone who got sick after contact with an ill puppy. Six pet-store companies are linked to the outbreak.
Campylobacter infection usually resolves on its own, but in severe cases and for people with compromised immune systems, such as those with cancer or HIV, antibiotics are needed. This puppy-related outbreak is particularly challenging because the bacteria has been resistant to antibiotics commonly used to treat this infection and has occurred within 18 states.
Just like with humans, when antibiotics are overused in puppies, bacteria develop resistance to the drugs used to eradicate them. The report revealed that among the investigated puppies, 95% had received one or more courses of antibiotics, raising concern that antibiotic use might have led to the development of resistance. Public health officials warn that responsible use of antibiotics is important in animals to prevent widespread emergence of bacterial resistance.
How to protect yourself: All dogs, regardless of where they are purchased or adopted, can carry and transmit Campylobacter bacteria to humans. To protect yourself from puppy-related illnesses, always be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after playing with your pooch or cleaning up its stools. And if your pet has diarrhea or is very sluggish, get the animal checked out by a vet right away.