GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - Channel 2 consumer investigator Jim Strickland has confirmed a Gwinnett teenager is the latest victim of a dangerous germ transmitted by a puppy from a Petland pet store.
The teenager, who worked at the Mall of Georgia Petland store for a month, was rushed to a hospital with a fever near 105.
"Essentially, it felt like you were dying," said Katie Singleton, 16.
"It's something as a parent you don't think of. You buy a puppy for Christmas; you don't think it'll be dangerous to your child," said Dawn Singleton, the victim's mother.
The girl was hospitalized for four days. Ten days before the illness hit, the family bought a miniature schnauzer named Bella. Test results obtained from Gwinnett County Public Health confirm the dog carried the germ. Katie Singleton says the store never warned any employee about the ongoing outbreak or how to specifically lessen the risk of campylobacter.
"You never got a memo?" Strickland asked.
"Nope. We didn't get anything," she said.
Investigator Megin Nichols with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says outbreak detectives were surprised to learn Petland puppies can travel hundreds of miles and go from the breeder through middlemen before getting to the store.
"There's the possibility that (an animal has) come in contact with many other puppies and lots of people. And we know whenever that happens and the crowding of animals, there can be the potential for infections," she said.
Petland issued this statement:
"According to the CDC, 'Pet owners should be aware that any puppy or dog, regardless of where it is purchased or adopted, may carry germs like campylobacter that can make people sick. Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching puppies and dogs or after picking up their poop.'
"Our puppies are given the proper preventatives, and the only transmission to humans would be through the consumption of fecal matter. We emphasize proper sanitation in store and provided proper contact for situations like this. We have reached out to Ms. Singleton to wish her a speedy recovery."
The Singletons say the store called the day she was discharged from the hospital Jan. 13. They've not been back in contact.
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