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DOH-Orange’s Disease Detectives discovery of a Campylobacter jejuni Multistate Outbreak featured in the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

By Kent Donahue

August 28, 2018

Epidemiologists from the Florida Department of Health in Orange County (DOH-Orange) recently co-authored a publication in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

Epidemiology Program’s “Disease Detectives” (Alvina Chu, MHS, Jennifer Jackson, MPH, Heyda Rodriguez, BS/BA and Ashley Vineyard, MPH) began an investigation of local Campylobacter jejuni infections associated with puppies at local pet stores. Based on fecal samples and laboratory confirmation, a linkage was established with the puppies and a national pet store chain based in Ohio.

 In August 2017, DOH-Orange notified the CDC of the Campylobacter jejuni infections and the linkage between the puppies in Orange County and the national chain. Soon a multistate investigation was initiated by local and state health and agriculture departments. The results of the additional investigations established the existence of a multi-state outbreak of multidrug-resistant bacteria. 

According to the peer-reviewed MMWR publication, “in total, six pet store companies were linked to the outbreak. Outbreak isolates were resistant by antibiotic susceptibility testing to all antibiotics commonly used to treat Campylobacter infections, including macrolides and quinolones.” Infection prevention recommendations and recommendations for testing puppies to veterinarians were provided by public health authorities. 

By the end of February 2018, a total of 118 persons, including 29 pet store employees, meeting the case definition of Campylobacter infection were reported in 18 states. Most individuals exposed to the Campylobacter jejuni bacteria become ill. Symptoms included diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever within two to five days after exposure. The MMWR publication indicated no deaths occurred, however, 26 individuals were hospitalized due to the infection. 

To read more details about the outbreak and the conclusions in the MMWR, visit: