Pet-fueled illness sickens first human in Georgia

The illness can be contracted from a pet dog or cat. It’s strong enough to merely wave off the first line of antibiotic treatment and has landed people in the hospital.

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And now it’s in Georgia. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the Georgia case Tuesday without releasing any details.

The campylobactor (kam-pi-lo-BAK-tər) bacteria spreads to humans through contact with animals' fecal matter. Infections have spread to 15 states and affected 67 people. No deaths have been reported, but 17 victims have been hospitalized.

Symptoms in humans include fever, stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.

In animals, "sometimes they'll have a fever, they'll be lethargic (and) they may be vomiting as well," said Dr. Nicholas Berryessa of Blue Pearl Veterinary Clinic of Sandy Springs. If these behaviors surface, pet owners are advised to take pets to the vet quickly.

Health authorities are especially concerned because infections do not respond to the normal battery of antibiotics that are the first line of defense when someone is sick. These include such common antibiotics as azithromycin, ciprofloxacin, clindamycin, erythromycin, nalidixic acid, telithromycin, and tetracycline.

In other states, the CDC has linked cases to Petland stores, involving workers or customers who purchased puppies. A Petland spokesperson told WSB-TV that it will continue to assist the CDC in its investigation.

In the meantime, the CDC recommends the following:

  • Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching puppies or picking up their poop.
  • Work with your veterinarian to keep your animals healthy and prevent diseases.

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