Since 2011, at least 34 Americans have fallen ill with a rare strain of Salmonella Typhimurium contracted from pet hedgehogs, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That case count includes one patient who died as a result of infection. The national molecular subtyping network PulseNet first began detecting the unique strain in 2002 at a rate of one or two human cases per year. Then, in 2011, it found 14. In 2012, it found another 18. And now, one month into 2013, the network has already found 2 more. Four of the 20 most recent cases have resulted in hospitalization. Ages of those recent cases range from less than one year old to 91, with 55 percent of patients being female. Of 15 patients interviewed, 14 reported contact with a hedgehog within the week prior to falling ill. Patients reported purchasing hedgehogs from various breeders, many of them licensed by the federal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The CDC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s APHIS are currently conducting a traceback investigation on the contaminated hedgehogs. The CDC advises that the elderly, immunocompromised individuals and children under the age of five are especially susceptible to Salmonella infections. The agency also advises those who handle hedgehogs to wash their hands thoroughly immediately afterward. The following is a map of the states in which the 20 most recent cases occurred: Persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium, by State A map of illness onset dates of the 20 most recent cases: Persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium, by date of illness onset Graphics courtesy of CDC.