A suspected link between pig ear treats and 45 human cases of salmonellosis is being investigated by federal and state officials, the U.S Food and Drug Administration announced today.

The FDA said the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found salmonellosis in 45 patients from 13 states that is from Salmonella enterica serotype I 4,[5],12:i:-

Of those for whom complete information is available, one third of the patients have required hospitalization.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) collected pig ear samples from bulk bins at retail locations. Samples tested positive for several strains of Salmonella, although not the specific strain connected to this outbreak.

Both the CDC and FDA are working with state boards of health to determine if there are any cases of human or animal illness linked to the strains of Salmonella found in the tested treats. Specimens from patients can be compared to those from the treats using laboratory techniques to determine whether they are connected.

The FDA is also working with impacted firms to remove these pig ears from the marketplace and identify other places where they may have been distributed.

Consumers can choose whether to discard pig ear treats they have in their homes or take steps to prevent Salmonella infection, FDA said.

Salmonella can affect both human and animal health. People with symptoms of Salmonella infection should consult their healthcare providers. Consult a veterinarian if your pet has signs of Salmonella infection.

Anyone who opts to continue feeding long-lasting treats like pig ears to their pets should take precautions, according to public health officials. Keep pig ears away from small children. Watch your pet and pick up after it when done. Keep areas in contact with the treat clean and be sure to wash your hands. Do not allow the animal to lick you, or any member of your family or surfaces in your home.

About Salmonella infections in people and pets
People infected with Salmonella can develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps.

Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection, but infants, children, seniors and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.

Anyone who has handled any of the recalled products and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after exposure through contact with the pet treats or anything that came into contact with them, including pets. Otherwise healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients need to be hospitalized. 

Older adults, children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop a severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions.

It is possible for some people to be infected with the bacteria and to not get sick or show any symptoms, but to still be able to spread the infection to others.

Pets do not always display symptoms when infected with Salmonella, but signs can include vomiting, diarrhea that may be bloody, fever, loss of appetite and/or decreased activity level, according to FDA. Infected pets can shed the bacteria in their feces and saliva without showing signs of being sick.

The investigation is ongoing, and FDA plans to provide the public with new information as it becomes available.

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