Multidrug-Resistant Campylobacter Outbreak Linked to Pet Store Puppies

Nationally, 118 people in 18 states were found to have illness onset during January 5, 2016 to February 4, 2018
Nationally, 118 people in 18 states were found to have illness onset during January 5, 2016 to February 4, 2018

Puppies sold at pet stores were the source of a multistate outbreak of multidrug-resistant Campylobacter jejuni infections in humans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the source following a joint investigation with local and state health departments. 

Six different pet store companies were linked to the outbreak. Nationally, 118 people (including 29 pet store employees) in 18 states were found to have illness onset during January 5, 2016 to February 4, 2018. Outbreak isolates were found to be resistant to all antibiotics commonly used to treat Campylobacter infections (eg, macrolides quinolones). 

Of the 149 puppies investigated, 142 (95%) had received ≥1 courses of antibiotics, with 55% of puppies receiving antibiotics only for prophylaxis. Metronidazole, sulfadimethoxine, doxycycline, and azithromycin were the most commonly used antibiotics, although administration records showed that broad-spectrum agents were used as well. 

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"Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback evidence indicates that puppies sold through the commercial dog industry, an uncommon source of Campylobacter outbreaks, were the source of a multistate outbreak of multidrug-resistant Campylobacter infections," the CDC stated in a new Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). "This evidence, combined with the prolonged nature of the outbreak and the potential for puppy commingling, indicates a potential for continued transmission of multidrug-resistant Campylobacter industrywide."

As for treatment, supportive care should be sufficient for most patients, however, if antibiotics are indicated, clinicians should consider stool culture and antibiotic susceptibility testing. Antibiotic choice should be based on the results of these tests and consultation with an infectious disease specialist should be considered. 

For more information visit CDC.gov.