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Could Campylobacter Lead to “Fur-ternity Leave”?

Posted in Campylobacter,Outbreaks & Recalls on September 30, 2018

Puppies… they are adorable. Who doesn’t love them? I know that we are super attached to our dogs, and when they were puppies, we spent so much time with them that I almost hated leaving them. Our pets were here before we even had children and they became a huge part of our lives. I started working from home, so that we didn’t have to leave them for long periods of time; among other obvious reasons. Ever heard of Fur-ternity leave?

A Minnesota Company Believes

A company in Minnesota has adopted a “fur-ternity” leave for employees that have a new bundle of joy at home. According to News Channel 21 Minneapolis-based Nina Hale announced on its website that it has adopted “fur-ternity leave,” a company-wide policy that allows employees to work flexible hours from home for one week after bringing a new puppy or kitten home.

The company said it’s all part of making sure their employees stay happy – and help their new addition adjust. “Part of embracing employee satisfaction as a business priority means recognizing important life events that happen outside of the office,” Nina Hale CEO Donna Robinson said. “If we want to continue to set the example as a top workplace, it is crucial to offer innovative benefits that help to preserve the work-life happiness of our employee owners.”

The policy was inspired by Connor McCarthy, a senior account manager at the firm, who asked for a week of flexible hours when he got a new dog in May.

Other Reasons

Other triggers for staying home when you have a new pup factor in as well. Recently the CDC began an investigation into a multi-state outbreak of campylobacter infections linked to contact with puppies at a nationally known chain called Petland.

CDC, several states, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) investigated a multistate outbreak of multidrug-resistant Campylobacter infections. Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicated that contact with puppies sold through Petland stores were a likely source of this outbreak. While the CDC considers this outbreak investigation over, illnesses could continue to occur because people may be unaware of the risk of Campylobacter infections from puppies and dogs.

The CDC found 113 people with laboratory-confirmed infections or symptoms consistent with Campylobacter Infection were linked to this outbreak. Illnesses were reported from 17 states. Illnesses started on dates ranging from January 12, 2016 to January 7, 2018. Ill people ranged in age from less than 1 year to 86, with a median age of 27. Sixty-three percent of ill people were female. The CDC also noted 23 of the 103 people with available information hospitalized. The agency reports no deaths. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) showed that isolates from people infected with Campylobacter were closely related genetically. This close genetic relationship means that people in this outbreak were more likely to share a common source of infection.

Until recently, I didn’t know anything about campylobacter and wanted to do some research, especially living in an area where you randomly come into contact with puppies. When I say random I mean in the grocery store, other shopping stores, the park, farmer’s market and literally anywhere in between. Apparently, this has become quite common to pedal puppies like black market handbags.

Campylobacter according to the CDC is a bacterium that can make people and animals sick. Campylobacter jejuni causes most human illnesses, but other species also can cause human illness. People can become infected when they have direct or indirect contact with animal feces including dogs/puppies. Maybe “fur-ternity leave” is a good thing?

What Pet Owners Should Know

Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching your puppy or dog, after handling their food, and after cleaning up after them.

  • Adults should supervise handwashing for young children.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer until you are able to wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Use disposable gloves to clean up after your puppy or dog, and wash your hands afterwards. Clean up any urine (pee), feces (poop), or vomit in the house immediately. Then disinfect the area using a water and bleach solution.
  • Don’t let pets lick around your mouth and face.
  • Don’t let pets lick your open wound or areas with broken skin.
  • Take your dog to the veterinarian regularly to keep it healthy and to help prevent the spread of disease.
  • Within a few days after getting a new puppy or dog, take it to the veterinarian for a health check-up.
  • When choosing a pet, pick a puppy or dog that is bright, alert, and playful.
  • Signs of illness include appearing lethargy (seeming sluggish or tired), not eating, having diarrhea, and breathing abnormally. However, even a dog that appears healthy can spread germs to people and other animals.
  • If your dog becomes sick or dies soon after purchase or adoption, take your dog to the veterinarian promptly.  Then, inform the pet store, breeder, or rescue organization about the pet’s illness or death. Thoroughly clean the area occupied by your pet by using a water and bleach solution.
  • If your dog dies, consider waiting at least a few weeks before purchasing or adopting another pet.
Dog Days

After recently losing one of our beloved dogs after 9 years with us, we are not actively looking at adding another to our family, but if we choose to do so we want to make sure we are dealing with a reputable person and also make sure that we keep things very sanitary not only for the safety of our family but also for the new pup. We already practice a lot of safe handling practices with all of our pets even including our backyard chickens, but there is never too much caution.

Also, we advise our children to make sure they are not accepting mouth kisses from the dogs and that they are learning from a very young age about proper hand washing after being involved with animals. We also do not encourage the petting of strange dogs when we are out and about, and if they do happen to touch or be licked, we immediately wash their hands with disposable wipes and do a more intense washing at home as soon as we can.

By: Samantha Cooper, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)