By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A rare illness making Minnesotans sick has been linked to puppies. The Centers for Disease Control is investigating a bacterial outbreak across at least 13 states.

Minnesota has the most cases so far with six patients who came into contact with dogs.

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“It’s definitely not a common thing that we see,” said Dr. Sara Lewis, a veterinarian at the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley.

The outbreak is called Campylobacter jejuni. The troubling thing is that it’s a multi-drug resistant infection.

“It’s a bacteria that, for lack of a better word, sets up camp in the GI tract. And so it causes diarrhea,” said Dr. Lewis.

It’s one of the rare bacteria that pass between humans, dogs and also cats. A large number of people who got sick say they had contact with a dog from Petland — a pet store that’s part of a national chain. It has locations in Wisconsin and Iowa, but not Minnesota. However, health officials say it’s not just a Petland problem.

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Prevention for this illness is just like flu prevention. You want to wash your hands thoroughly after coming into contact with a puppy or dog.

That’s especially important if you are cleaning up a dog’s urine, feces or vomit.

“Wherever an animal goes out to a dog park or to a yard and you don’t pick it up right away, or you pick it up and don’t wash your hands right away, so, therefore, it can be contamination through that,” said Dr. Lewis.

Infection symptoms include fever, diarrhea and stomach cramps.

Most patients recover on their own, though doctors will prescribe antibiotics if you get really sick.

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Get more information here from the CDC’s website.

John Lauritsen