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Pet Hedgehogs Implicated in Salmonella Outbreak

At least 14 people have been sickened in a multistate Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak linked to contact with hedgehogs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The first illnesses connected to this outbreak occurred in December of last year, but cases continued to crop up as recently as last month, according to CDC’s initial report, released Thursday. The latest recorded illness began on August 13, 2012. Any illnesses that began after that date may not yet have been counted due to the time delay between when a person falls ill and when that illness is reported (usually 2-3 weeks).

Illnesses occurred in 6 states, including Alabama (1), Indiana (1), Michigan (3), Minnesota (2), Ohio (2) and Washington (5).

A total of 3 victims have been hospitalized. None have died from their infections.

Ill persons have ranged in age from less than 1 year old to 62 years old, reports CDC. Half of the victims were 10 years old or younger.

Interviews with 10 infected individuals revealed that all had had contact with hedgehogs or hedgehog environments in the week preceding illness.

Patients reported purchasing hedgehogs from different breeders in different states.

Two environmental samples taken from places in people’s homes where hedgehogs lived or had been bathed tested positive for the outbreak strain of the bacteria.

Some of those interviewed reported contact with African Pygmy hedgehogs, but CDC has not definitively linked this breed to the outbreak.

“Investigations are ongoing to determine the type and source of hedgehogs that might be linked with illness.”

The strain of Salmonella Typhimurium linked to this outbreak is uncommon, says CDC.

“The outbreak strain has been rarely seen in the past,” notes the agency in its report.

Avoiding Infection

Salmonella are shed in animal feces, so droppings from infected hedgehogs can transfer the bacteria to their environment or to people handling them.

CDC urges those who have had contact with hedgehogs to wash hands immediately after touching these animals or anything in the environment where they live and roam.

© Food Safety News
  • Dr Patrick

    you could say a similar thing for just about any pet. It make me feel ill to seepeople letting dogs lick their faces (mouths); Don’t they know where that tongue has been recently.
    lesson is…always wash your hand very carefully after touching any pet and don’t put your hand near your mouth or eat before you do.