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CDC Reports Multistate Outbreaks from Diseased Pet Store Puppies, Pet Turtles

CDC Reports Multistate Outbreaks from Diseased Pet Store Puppies, Pet Turtles

By Craig Bannister

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website is currently warning of “multistate outbreaks” of disease caused by people buying pet store puppies and keeping turtles as pets.

On Friday, the “Outbreaks” section of the CDC website’s front page warns: “Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Agbeni Infections Linked to Pet Turtles, 2017.” The update reports that pet turtles are infecting their owners with Salmonella:

The update reports pet turtles are infecting their owners with Salmonella:

  • CDC and multiple states are investigating a multistate outbreak of human Salmonella infections linked to contact with pet turtles.
  • A total of 66 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Agbeni have been reported from 18 states.
  • Illnesses started on dates ranging from March 1, 2017 to October 14, 2017
  • Of 53 people with available information, 23 have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
  • Twenty-three (35%) ill people are children younger than 5.

The CDC’s solution: “Do not buy small turtles as pets or give them as gifts.”

The CDC explains that ALL turtles or ANY size carry salmonella and, thus, can infect humans:

  • Since 1975, the FDA has banned selling and distributing turtles with shells less than 4 inches long as pets because they are often linked to Salmonella infections, especially in young children.
  • But, ALL turtles, regardless of size, can carry Salmonella bacteria even if they look healthy and clean. These outbreaks are a reminder to follow simple steps to enjoy pet reptiles and keep your family healthy.
  • This outbreak is expected to continue since consumers might be unaware of the risk of Salmonella infection from small turtles. If properly cared for, turtles have a long life expectancy.

Likewise, the CDC’s website warns of pet store puppies infecting humans in its Jan. 30, 2018 post, Multistate Outbreak of Multidrug-Resistant Campylobacter Infections Linked to Contact with Pet Store Puppies:

“A total of 113 people with laboratory-confirmed infections or symptoms consistent with Campylobacter infection were linked to this outbreak. Illnesses were reported from 17 states.

“Illnesses started on dates ranging from January 12, 2016 to January 7, 2018. Ill people ranged in age from less than 1 year to 86, with a median age of 27. Sixty-three percent of ill people were female. Of 103 people with available information, 23 (22%) were hospitalized. No deaths were reported. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) showed that isolates from people infected with Campylobacter were closely related genetically. This close genetic relationship means that people in this outbreak were more likely to share a common source of infection.”

The investigation concludes that “puppies sold through Petland stores were a likely source of this outbreak”:

“Ninety-nine percent of people reported contact with a puppy in the week before illness started, and 87% reported they had contact with a puppy from Petland stores, or had contact with a person who became sick after contact with a puppy from a Petland store. Twenty-five ill people worked at Petland stores.”

“Ill people reported contact with different breeds of puppies at different store locations in several states. The investigation did not identify a common breeder where puppies infected with the outbreak strain of Campylobacter originated.”

Still, while the investigation is over, CDC warns that “Illnesses could continue to occur because people may be unaware of the risk of Campylobacter infections from puppies and dogs.”


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