Pet Parasite That Can Be Transmitted To Humans Is Spreading In Atlanta

State officials ordered six Atlanta-area pet stores to stop selling dogs after more than 130 puppies tested positive for a parasite that can be transmitted to humans.

Investigating a complaint, Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin found 138 of 151 puppies tested at the six Pet Company stores were infected with Giardia, a parasite that can be transmitted to humans. No human cases of Giardia infection have been reported in connection with the sick puppies. The symptoms can include diarrhea, stomach cramps and nausea.

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner said he will deal “very harshly” with the stores’ New York-based chain, probably with fines.

Agriculture officials said the six pet stores can continue selling other animals, but all their dogs were ordered quarantined on Tuesday.

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Giardiasis is a major diarrheal disease found throughout the world. Giardia lamblia, its causative agent, is the most commonly identified intestinal parasite in the United States. Giardiasis is caused by ingestion of Giardia cysts. The infective dose is low in humans; 10-25 cysts are capable of causing clinical disease.
The only medications used in the treatment of giardiasis are antimicrobial agents to eradicate the organism in the bowel. Some drugs not available in the United States are considered effective therapeutic alternatives (eg, quinacrine [Atabrine]).

Quinacrine achieves a cure rate of 90-95%. The most common adverse effects include nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramping. Occasional yellow discoloration of the skin, urine, and sclerae may occur. The recommended adult dose is 100 mg PO tid for 5-7 d, and for children the recommended dose is 2 mg/kg PO tid for 5-7 d. This medication should not be used in patients with documented hypersensitivity to this medication or related products, those diagnosed with psoriasis, or those with a history of psychosis.

Tinidazole is now approved in the United States and is considered a first-line agent in cases outside the United States. The efficacy is reported at 90%. A common adverse effect is GI upset. The recommended adult dose is 2 g PO once; for children the recommended dose is 50 mg/kg PO once.

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