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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A disease spread from dogs has been grabbing national headlines.

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Federal health officials say more people have gotten sick from an infection related to puppies.

“It’s called campylobacter, and it causes diarrhea and vomiting if you get infected with it, and it can cause a bad fever, and some people — a few people — end up in the hospital,” veterinarian Dr. Mike Hutchinson said.

The Center for Disease Control is looking at 55 cases of the disease that can be picked up after handling puppies.

“Every puppy has campylobacter. You have to assume that every animal is carrying that disease. It’s just that not all of them are ill. And so, we just have to be careful and wash our hands,” Dr. Hutchinson said.

There have been cases reported in 12 states, but there is a straightforward way to protect yourself and your kids. Simply wash your hands after playing with dogs.

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“Probably most important for our children because they are the ones most likely to handle those puppies and then put their hand in their mouth — and so we just want to be careful and have good hygiene like everything else,” Dr. Hutchinson said.

The highest risk groups are young kids and the elderly.

“You don’t have to be older. You don’t have to be younger. You can just be immuno-suppressed for whatever reason. Maybe you haven’t been getting enough sleep and your defense is down — and they you get exposed to this and end up with the disease,” Dr. Hutchinson said.

The first case in the outbreak was tracked to a Petland location in Florida, but Dr. Hutchinson believes the chain is doing all the right things.

“They do a very good job of getting vets in there to vet their dogs and make sure they are healthy — and then they insist that when you buy a puppy from them, you go to a veterinarian and have them checked out. I think that is very good advice, always,” Dr. Hutchinson said.

Dr. Hutchinson said most pet owners can tell right away if there is something wrong with their dog.

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“You want to see that their stools are normal. That they are healthy, that they are eating. That they are drinking fine and that they are playful because a puppy should be playful,” he said.