A bacterial infection that commonly causes diarrheal illness recently sickened people across seven states. An investigation conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Inspection Service, has traced back the source of the outbreak to puppies sold in a national pet store chain.

CDC found a linked between the multistate outbreaks of the human Campylobacter Infection to puppies being sold through Petland. So far, there are 39 laboratory-confirmed cases of the infections in Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

All of the infected patients were exposed to the puppies in Petland stores.

How does human Campylobacter infection spread?

The human Campylobacter infection can commonly be acquired through the consumption of raw or undercooked poultry. Previous outbreaks of Campylobacter infection were linked to contaminated water, poultry, produce and unpasteurized dairy products. However, the bacterial infection can also be acquired through contact with the stool of an ill dog and cat.

Out of the 39 confirmed cases, 12 were employees of Petland and 27 either visited Petland or living with a puppy purchased from the pet store chain. Of the patients, 18 lives in Ohio, 11 in Florida, five in Kansas, two in Pennsylvania, one in Missouri, one in Tennessee and one in Wisconsin.

CDC have recorded nine hospitalizations and no deaths from the outbreak.

Serious infections can lead to paralysis or even death

People with Campylobacter infection may experience abdominal pain, diarrhea, and fever. The symptoms typically appear two to five days after the contact with bacteria and can last around a week. Infected individuals can typically recover from the infection within a week, even without medical intervention.

However, infants, the elderly, cancer patients and other people with weakened immune systems are at most risk of developing serious infections from the bacteria. Severe infections could result to fatal complications that may either cause paralysis or death.

There are about 14 reported cases of Campylobacteriosis per 100,000 people in the United States.

CDC noted that some of the cases may go unreported. Due to this, CDC estimates that more than 1.3 million Americans acquire the infection every year. The best way to of avoid being contaminated with the bacteria is through proper hand washing. CDC recommends washing hands after handling puppies or other pet animals.