Knoxville veterinarians explain signs and symptoms of Campylobacter outbreak

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A national pet store company is warning people to be cautious to prevent the possible spread of infection that has spread from puppies to people in a number of states.

The Tennessee Health Department confirms a Knoxville Petland store was included in a possible outbreak of Campylobacter. So far the CDC knows of 39 people who are sick because of the bacterial infection which can be passed from dogs to humans.

Campylobacter is a bacterial infection passed through fecal matter.

“You actually could get it just from playing with the puppy, kissing the puppy, which we all love doing because puppies are cute,” said Dr. Marcy Souza, a UT Public Health veterinarian.

Related: Knoxville pet store part of national disease outbreak

Dogs, cats and people can catch Campylobacter. The CDC adds 1.3 million people come down with the infection every year and the symptoms are generally the same for animals and humans.

“Usually Campylobacter takes two to five days from the exposure to cause illness and the most common sign of infection is diarrhea and so basically your gastrointestinal system is not happy,” added Dr. Souza.

Vets say if your pets or you feel sick enough, see a physician.

“In the case of Campylobacter, it doesn’t necessarily include antibiotics because with people, as well as animals, a lot of times it’ll run its course and the immune system will just take care of it,” said Dr. Souza.

The best advice is to keep disinfectants close by, not allow pets to lick your face or any cuts you may have, and remember to wash your hands with soap every time you visit a pet store or shelter.

“We get so worried when she does get sick. She’s our baby,” said dog owner Megan Beal.

Petland saying it’s following recommendations from the CDC when it comes to keeping the animals and staff safe. We’re also told workers have resources ready to act once they receive case-specific information.

A spokesperson for the company saying in part quote, “The health and well-being of our pets, staff, and customers is Petland’s utmost priority and concern.”

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