No bacterial infections reported in Sarasota County as of mid-December resulting from contact with Petland puppies, Health Department says

CDC investigating illnesses in 17 states, with 14 reported in Florida as of Dec. 13

This map shows the states with confirmed illnesses linked to Petland puppies. Image from the CDC

As of Dec. 15, no cases of Campylobacter bacterial infections linked to the handling of puppies at the Petland Sarasota store have been reported to the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County, The Sarasota News Leader has confirmed.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on Dec. 13 that, thus far, it had verified 97 cases of infection in 17 states — with 22 hospitalizations — most likely resulting from people’s contact with Petland puppies. Ohio has the highest number of cases — 32 — followed by Florida with 14 and Illinois with 10, according to the CDC.

No deaths have been reported, the CDC said in its Dec. 13 advisory. However, the Campylobacter bacteria isolated “from clinical samples from people sickened in this outbreak are resistant to commonly recommended, first-line antibiotics,” the CDC pointed out. “This means it may be difficult to treat these infections with the antibiotics usually prescribed for Campylobacter infections.”

The illnesses date back to mid-June 2016, the CDC wrote. The federal agency began receiving the most recent reports of infection on Oct. 23, the CDC statement added, with 30 more cases from 11 states under investigation.

  1. Steve Huard, public information officer for the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County, told the News Leader in a Dec. 15 email that the department had not had any inquiries about illness regarding Petland.

“Of 89 people interviewed [about contracting the bacteria],” the CDC continued in its advisory, “87 (98%) reported contact with a puppy in the week before illness started. Of 88 people interviewed, 79 (90%) reported they had contact with a puppy from a Petland store, or had contact with a person who became sick after contact with a puppy from a Petland store. Twenty-one ill people worked at a Petland store.”

The CDC report adds, “Whole genome sequencing (WGS) showed that the Campylobacter isolates from sick people in this outbreak and isolates from pet store puppies were closely related genetically, providing additional evidence that people got sick from contact with pet store puppies.”

The Petland store in Sarasota is on Fruitville Road. File photo

A Sept. 11 CDC advisory pointed out that the whole genome sequencing showed samples of the bacteria isolated from the stools of puppies sold through Petland stores in Florida were closely related to Campylobacter “isolated from the stool of an ill person in Ohio.”

CDC advisories indicate that the first reports of illnesses came from people Ohio.

When the Sarasota County Commission held a public hearing in January 2016 on a proposed ban of retail sales of dogs and cats, a number of people who testified in opposition to the new ordinance were breeders of puppies for Petland. Several identified themselves as Ohio residents.

Petland has continued to sell puppies at its Sarasota store while its owners and Sarasota County continue in litigation over the prohibition of retail sales of dogs and cats, which went into effect in late January this year. A hearing on motions in that case is set for 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 4, the News Leader has learned.

Petland filed its complaint against the county in late October 2016, alleging that the new law would violate a number of its constitutional rights.

After hearing arguments this fall related to Petland’s efforts to keep certain records confidential, 12th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Frederick P. Mercurio issued an order on Oct. 23, setting out how such materials should be handled in the case.

Photo by Layla 1985 via Wikimedia Commons

The CDC report offers a number of recommendations to the public in an effort to prevent the further spread of illness from the handling of puppies:

  • “Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching puppies or dogs, after handling their food and after cleaning up after them.”
  • Adults should supervise hand washing 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 awater 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.”

The CDC is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on the multi-state outbreak, the advisory notes. More information would be released, the CDC said, after it becomes available.