Puppies in pet stores remain a source of drug-resistant Campylobacter

Puppies in pet stores remain a source of human infections with Campylobacter jejuni strains resistant to recommended antimicrobial treatments.

Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously published reports on C jejuni outbreaks since 2016 that involved puppies in pet stores. A scientific paper published in September 2021 identifies outbreaks as part of a persistent problem that has lasted for a decade.

“Surveillance data indicate that drug resistance C jejuni The strains have been circulating for at least 10 years and continue to cause illness in customers, employees and others in pet stores who encounter puppies in pet stores, ”the article said. “Extremely drug-resistant isolates are resistant to all recommended treatment agents. “

The article, published in JAMA Network Open, describes the analysis of 168 Campylobacter infections that occurred between 2011 and 20 and have epidemiological or molecular links with puppies in pet stores. Of the patients who answered the questions, 97% reported having been in contact with a dog in the week before symptoms; of those willing to provide additional information, 88% said they had come into contact with a puppy at a pet store.

The article also suggests that the actual number of infections is likely in the thousands, as the CDC estimates only one in 30. Campylobacter diseases is identified, mainly because most people do not seek medical attention.

Louise K. Francois Watkins, MD, is one of the authors of the article and a chief medical officer of the Enteric Disease Directorate at the CDC. She said that although the article describes cases followed through February 2020 – at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States – the CDC continues to see new infections in humans with closely related strains. . The number of confirmed cases has declined since the start of the pandemic, but she said this may reflect a drop in reported cases and people could be infected about as often as before.

She noted that the overall number of pathogen reports declined during the pandemic and cited possible contributing factors such as resource constraints in public health laboratories and increased reluctance of patients to see doctors in person, which reduces the number of stool samples provided.

A preliminary report released by CDC officials in the agency’s September 24 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report says the CDC’s active foodborne illness surveillance network has identified 26% fewer infections in 2020 than the annual average for 2017-19 and a 23% decrease in confirmed cases. Campylobacter infections. Public health interventions aimed at preventing the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, such as travel restrictions and restaurant closures, may have contributed to this decrease, as may changes in healthcare use and capacity of public health laboratories, the report said.

The article details the results of two surveys from 2016 to 2020, with infections confirmed in humans and animals. The pathogen has spread to a mix of customers, employees and other visitors to the pet stores. Most of the exposures occurred through a single chain of pets – identified in previous reports as Petland – but they weren’t limited to that chain, as people who got sick reported puppy shows at other retailers and dog breeders.

Investigators were also unable to identify a common source of infection among breeders, transporters or stores.

“The commercial dog industry could implement measures to reduce unnecessary antibiotic use and improve hygiene and infection control at all levels, from breeding to pet store, similar to those taken by the food animal production industry under the guidelines of the United States Food and Drug Administration, ”the article states. “Veterinary school curricula, continuing veterinary education focused on antibiotic management for veterinarians working with the commercial dog industry, and increased veterinary oversight within the industry can improve prescribing practices. “

Dr François Watkins said his team was struggling to get details on the administration of antimicrobials in the pet sales industry. But she expressed concern that antimicrobial products could be given to dogs as part of store protocols, rather than in consultation with vets following assessments.

Veterinarians in clinical practice can also advise clients on, for example, safety precautions to follow when cleaning up after a new pet. Diagnostic tests in at least some veterinary patients have identified the C jejuni strains in dogs, Dr François Watkin said, and more testing could help identify links between infections in humans and animals.

Highly drug resistant bacteria present a unique health problem requiring collaboration between human and animal health disciplines, she said. She wants partners in the veterinary community to know that these strains circulate in animals and that they may limit treatment options.

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