The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have released their investigation into a string of multidrug-resistant campylobacter infections that affected 118 people from 2016 to 2018. The cause? Puppies sold at 6 different pet stores across 18 different states.
The first cases of Campylobacter jejuni were identified in Florida. After reviewing the data, scientists linked them to a national pet store chain based in Ohio. At the end of a collaborative investigation between the CDC and local state health departments, where officials from six states collected puppy fecal samples, antibiotic records, and traceback information, 118 people were found to have contracted campylobacter from the pet store puppies. Twenty-nine of the people affected were employees of the 6 pet companies linked to the infections. The specific bacteria isolated in this investigation was traced back to 25 different breeders and 8 distributors of dogs.
Of the 149 puppies investigated for this study, 142 of them had received at least one course of antibiotics. The majority of research into antibiotic-resistance and animals has focused on animals raised for food like cattle and chicken. In fact, the bacteria that caused this infection, Campylobacter jejuni, is one of the most common causes of food poisoning in the U.S. and Europe and most commonly found on raw poultry. But this discovery suggests that the same issue we’re experiencing with factory-farming could be taking place with pets, especially those raised in puppy mills.
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Puppy mills and unscrupulous breeders are notorious for poor living conditions for the animals that live there. Dogs are kept in overcrowded, unsanitary cages for nearly 24 hours a day. The conditions in these frequently unlicensed facilities mirror those in your typical factory farm. This is one of the first studies to suggest that those comparisons extend to potentially dangerous pathogens found at both kinds of farms.
This outbreak shows another way antibiotics have snuck into our daily life. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria pose one of the most potent threats to public health in the future. Within the next thirty years, these microbes will likely kill more people than cancer. There also aren’t new antibiotics in development. Managing antibiotic resistance through the avoidance of unnecessary antibiotics is more crucial than ever before.
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- CDC: Drug-resistant infection in 118 people linked to pet store puppies – Click on Detroit
- Multidrug-Resistant Campylobacter jejuni Outbreak Linked to Puppy Exposure — United States, 2016–2018 – CDC
- About Puppy Mills – The Puppy Mill Project
- WHO Says the World Will Run Out of Antibiotics Able to Treat Bacteria Superbugs – Organic Lifestyle Magazine