ATLANTA – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating a 12-state outbreak of human Campylobacter infections linked to puppies sold through Petland, a national pet store chain.

“We know that Campylobacter is common in dogs, that’s not new to us,” CDC veterinarian Dr. Mark Laughlin said. “But an outbreak of human illnesses due to contact with dogs is quite unique.” 

The CDC reports 55 people have confirmed infections or symptoms consistent with Campylobacter infection. Florida, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming all have confirmed cases.

Laughlin said dogs commonly carry the germ causing Campylobacter infections. It varies whether pets even show symptoms of the infection, like diarrhea. But the infection can be transferred to humans when you touch, feed or clean up after your pet. 

Laughlin said the source of many of the infections has been linked to Petland. 

“These infections are all related based on their DNA, based on the DNA of the bacteria, tells us they’re likely from the same place,” Laughlin said. 

The CDC reports 14 confirmed cases in people are Petland employees across five states while 35 people either recently purchased a puppy at Petland, visited a Petland or visited someone with a puppy sold through Petland.

According to Petland, Inc., Petland has no store locations in Utah, Wyoming, New Hampshire and Maryland.

“Petland has been able to provide traceback for any puppy purchased as requested by the CDC, thus making sense for CDC and Petland to work together to conduct testing,” a statement from the company said. “However, more than 98% of people obtain their puppies from other sources, including shelters, rescues, friends, online and through local advertising. Petland is therefore pleased that the CDC is expanding its investigation.”

The infection can spread through contact with dog poop, though officials said it typically does not spread between people.

Petland has “re-doubled” efforts on education regarding proper hand sanitation, the statement said.

“The CDC has no new recommendations for Petland but continues to advise that Petland reinforces proper hand sanitization before and after playing with any of our puppies with the many sanitation stations in each store and continues to follow Petland’s strict kennel sanitation procedures and protocols put in place by consulting veterinarians,” the statement said.