A Salmonella outbreak typically means consumers need to steer clear of certain food products. But this time around, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating a salmonella outbreak regarding pet hedgehogs. So if you have a pet hedgehog, or if you have interacted with one in the past few months, read on for more info about this infection.
As the CDC explained this weekend, 11 people have already been infected with this strain of Salmonella Typhimurium in eight states across the country. According to the CDC, 10 of the 11 infected people said they had made physical contact with a hedgehog before contracting the infection. Unfortunately, officials have not yet figured out the link between these specific infected hedgehogs. So, to be safe, all hedgehog owners in the United States should take the following precautions.
If you have a hedgehog, here's what you need to do. Because hedgehog poop can contain the Salmonella germs, it's important to keep your hedgehog's bed extremely clean, and to always wash your hands after interacting with the critter. If you let your hedgehog meander about your house, the CDC says to keep them out of the kitchen, to ensure that they don't come into contact with food preparation areas. And most importantly, as the CDC advises: "Don’t kiss or snuggle hedgehogs, because this can spread Salmonella germs to your face and mouth and make you sick."
For most people, Salmonella causes symptoms including diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps, beginning anywhere from 12 to 72 hours after coming into contact with the bacteria, according to the Mayo Clinic. Most people recover naturally in four to seven days, but the disease can be fatal in rare instances, according to CDC added. If you think you may have contracted Salmonella, make sure to drink water and get a lot of rest, according to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The Mayo Clinic also recommends seeing a doctor.
Technically, Salmonella is a bacterium that is found in the intestines of humans and other animals — meaning it often originates in animal food products, such as meat, dairy items, and eggs, the website SafeFood explained. When someone comes into contact with live Salmonella, the bacteria can cause Salmonella food poisoning.
Jane Sykes, a professor specializing in infectious diseases in animals at the University of California, Davis, spoke with The New York Times about this hedgehog Salmonella outbreak. “The fact that hedgehogs are a risk is not new,” Sykes told the newspaper. “But we don’t know how common the shedding of salmonella is among hedgehogs specifically.”
As mentioned above, Salmonella typically manifests as a really bad case of food poisoning. But in 2013, a 90-something-year-old man from Spokane, Washington passed away due to a a hedgehog Salmonella outbreak, the Spokane Regional Health District reported. According to the website About Salmonella, elderly people and children under the age of 4 have the greatest risk of contracting a Salmonella infection.
Basically, if there are any hedgehogs in your life, proceed with caution, caution, and more caution, especially when it comes to protecting children and the elderly.