Petland puppies cause diarrhea outbreak in Kansas, six other states

The CDC issued a campylobacteriosis alert Monday tracing 39 cases where people have been made sick back to puppies sold at Petland, a national pet store chain. (CDC/Facebook)

Petland puppies carrying a disease that causes cramping and diarrhea have sickened 39 people in seven states, including five in Kansas.


Contact with poop from those puppies has caused campylobacteriosis, which is marked by diarrhea, cramping abdominal pain and fever, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The infection can also cause nausea and vomiting.

The CDC issued an alert Monday tracing the 39 cases back to puppies sold at Petland, a national pet store chain. Nine people have been hospitalized, but none have died, according to the alert. Five people were sickened in Kansas along with one in Missouri, 18 in Ohio, 11 in Florida, two in Pennsylvania and one each in Tennessee and Wisconsin.

The CDC alert notes that Petland’s puppies are likely the source of the outbreak, but it says investigators “are looking for the source of infections in people and puppies” to stop the outbreak and prevent further illnesses.

According to a news release issued by Petland spokeswoman Elizabeth Kunzelman, the chain is working with CDC investigators.

“The CDC has not identified any failures of Petland’s operating system that would lead to any campylobacter infection,” the release says.

The release also says Petland is the “only national source of puppies that can trace a puppy from its new owner back to its original kennel.”

Midge Grinstead, Kansas state director of the Humane Society of the United States, said she did not know whether Petland got its puppies from “puppy mills,” but that four of the seven affected states — including Kansas — topped the Humane Society’s list of states with high numbers of puppy mills. The Humane Society listed 19 poor-performing breeders from Missouri and 12 each from Kansas, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

“We kiss them and we love on them and they sleep in our bed, and it affects all of us,” Grinstead said.

She said she would like to see these facilities stopped in Kansas.

“You can’t allow these facilities where the parents live in just horrendous conditions where the puppies come from and just assume that they’re going to be healthy and not pass disease to our children,” she said.

In the release, Petland says it was advised to “continue to do what we are already doing” and educate customers and staff members on sanitation. According to the CDC, 12 of the 39 people infected were Petland employees. The other 27 had either recently visited Petland, purchased a puppy or visited a home with a puppy sold through Petland.

The CDC advised pet owners to wash their hands after touching dogs, dog food or feces and not to allow their dogs to lick their faces or open wounds. It also advised potential dog owners to choose a puppy who seems healthy and alert, and to take their new dog to a veterinarian shortly after purchase or adoption and when the dog is sick.

Petland has stores in Topeka, Wichita, Olathe and Overland Park. There are also two stores on the Missouri side of the Kansas City area in Independence and Blue Springs.