The Centers for Disease Control is investigating a multi-state outbreak of salmonella infections linked to pet hedgehogs.
According to their release, 11 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from eight states.
Victims range in age from 2 to 28 years, with a median age of 12.
Tips from the CDC:
- People who own or come in contact with hedgehogs should take steps to stay healthy around their pet.
- Hedgehogs can carry Salmonella germs in their droppings while appearing healthy and clean.
- These germs can easily spread to their bodies, habitats, toys, bedding, and anything in the area where they live. People become sick after they touch hedgehogs or anything in their habitats.
- Wash your hands
- Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching, feeding, or caring for a hedgehog or cleaning its habitat. Adults should supervise handwashing for young children.
- Play safely
- Don’t kiss or snuggle hedgehogs, because this can spread Salmonella germs to your face and mouth and make you sick.
- Don’t let hedgehogs roam freely in areas where food is prepared or stored, such as kitchens.
- Clean habitats, toys, and supplies outside the house when possible. Avoid cleaning these items in the kitchen or any other location where food is prepared, served, or stored.
- Pick the right pet for your family. Children under 5 years old, adults over 65, or people with weakened immune systems are at a greater risk for serious illness. Households with these individuals might consider a different pet.
- Hedgehog breeders, pet stores, or others that sell or display hedgehogs should provide educational materials to employees and customers.
- Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria.
- The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment.
- In some people, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other places in the body.
- In rare cases, Salmonella infection can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.
- Children younger than 5 years, adults older than 65 years, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have severe illness.
- For more information, see the CDC Salmonella website.