UPDATE: Federal health officials say puppies, carrying a common germ, have infected 39 people and 9 of those people have been hospitalized.

Researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say all of those cases are all linked to puppies sold in seven states, including here in Tennessee.

The CDC has not said which stores are linked to this multi-state outbreak. They would only say that of the 39 people infected, 12 are Petland employees from 4 states. The other 27 patients either recently purchased a puppy at Petland, visited a Petland or went to a home with a puppy purchased at a Petland. 

"You can get the bacteria from handling feces of the animal," said Beth Fullbright, Manager of Epidemiology, Hamilton County Health Dept.  

Officials with the Hamilton County Health Department say their records show an increase of Camplyobacter bacteria cases with 24 reported cases in Hamilton County and nearly 600 reported cases across the state in 2017. 

"Well the case numbers are increasing in both Hamilton County and in Tennessee and affecting all of the U.S.," said Fullbright. "The numbers are increasing." 

Federal health officials with the CDC are investigating a recent outbreak with patients in Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Tennessee. 

Investigators say the bacteria originated from puppies sold at Petland stores across the country. 

While the bacteria is most commonly transmitted through uncooked poultry and raw foods,officials say it can also be passed through a sick animal's feces and 

 "Well I think anytime your dealing with your pets particularly cleaning up feces from your pets, you need to make certain that you wash your hands thoroughly," said Fullbright. 

Doctors say pregnant women, children and anyone over the age of 65 are at the highest risk. Officials say anyone considered to be high-risk, should seek medical attention as soon as symptoms appear. 

"You should call your doctor if you have diarrhea more than 3 days, if you have vomiting more than 1 day or if you run a fever more than 102," said Fullbright. 

Symptoms include diarrhea , fever, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. 

A spokesperson for Petland's corporate office said in part,

"Today the CDC posted an update of 39 cases of humans with campylobacter. These 39 people completed several different questionnaires and one commonality was that they had visited a Petland store in the past week or worked there. The questionnaires were not consistent and didn't ask the same questions related to type of food the dogs ate or other contact with dogs. Petland immediately provided the CDC with complete access to our stores, our staff, our consulting veterinarians, our operating procedures and our pets," said Elizabeth Kunzelman, Director of Public Affairs, Petland Inc. " Petland takes the health and welfare of our pets, our customers and staff very seriously."  

Petland officials tell Channel 3, the CDC has have not identified any failures in their procedures and they are working with CDC investigators. 
We reached out to the one Petland store in our viewing area. The Dalton location tells us they've had no reports of any outbreaks at their location.   

Local veterinarians say the disease in animals is much less common but the bacterium is often found in healthy pets. 
while the most common sign on illness in both humans and animals is diarrhea, animals can carry the bacteria without showing any symptoms. 

officials say there is no affective vaccine for Campylobacter to date. Antibiotics and supportive care dehydration fluids are often given to those at high risk with more severe symptoms, but almost all persons infected with Campylobacter recover without any specific treatment. Doctors say all patients should drink extra fluids as long as the diarrhea lasts.

PREVIOUS STORY: Puppies carrying a common germ have infected 39 people and put nine of them into the hospital, federal health officials said Monday.

The cases are all linked to puppies sold in seven states by the pet store chain Petland, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The infection, called Campylobacter, is common in dogs and it can pass to people easily.

“Regardless of where they are from, any puppies and dogs may carry Campylobacter germs,” the CDC said in a statement.

“The ill people are from seven states (Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wisconsin),” the CDC said. The illnesses go back nearly a year, to September of 2016.

“Evidence suggests that puppies sold through Petland are a likely source of this outbreak,” the CDC said. “Petland is cooperating with public health and animal health officials to address this outbreak.”

The CDC says Campylobacter is one of the most common causes of diarrheal illness in the United States, infecting 1.3 million people every year.

Dogs infected with Campylobacter might look perfectly well, but they can also have diarrhea, vomiting, or a fever. In people, symptoms include diarrhea, sometimes bloody; fever; stomach cramps; nausea and vomiting.

Pregnant women, people over 65 and young children are most susceptible.

“Wash your hands thoroughly after touching dogs, their poop, or their food. Take extra care that children playing with the puppies also wash their hands carefully,” the CDC advised.

“Pick up and dispose of dog poop, especially in areas where children might play.”

Most people with Campylobacter get better on their own but severe cases may be treated with antibiotics such as azithromycin or ciprofloxacin.