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Hedgehogs Maybe Linked to Salmonella

Hedgehogs Maybe Linked to Salmonella

Hedgehogs Maybe Linked to Salmonella

U.S. government officials reported that pet hedgehogs might be an unseen link connected to a rare strain of salmonella. Typically people contract the illness from tainted food but the government officials report states that contact with an infected critter and their environment can cause the illness. This news was released Thursday by the researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Salmonella Typhimurium is the rare strain of salmonella the CDC found in the outbreak while doing their research. It is so rare that across the United States there are one or two cases reported annually. However, by 2011, the CDC began to see more reports.

Beginning in January 2012, “a total of 20 persons affected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from eight states,” the CDC said. States affected include Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon and Washington.

At least half of the affected patients are under the age of ten-years-old.

The CDC has received reports of at least one death and four hospitalizations in relation to the illness. “Fourteen out of 15 patients (or their proxies) reported direct or indirect contact between the patient and a hedgehog during the week before illness onset,” the CDC team noted. Some specifically mentioned contact with African Pygmy hedgehogs.

All of the hedgehogs in question were purchased from breeders, some of them licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that have full knowledge of what safe breeding standards to follow. However some of the hedgehogs traced back to the same breeders. Those breeders are being investigated by the USDA, the CDC and state health departments.

There are various ways to contract salmonella from a hedgehog. People get the illness directly from physically interacting with the hedgehog or during routine hedgehog care. Another way is to get it from touching objects that interact with the critter such as toys, bedding, or their cages or touching household items to them.

Hand washing and sterilizing after handling the hedgehog are essential to preventing the disease, especially before eating, drinking or touching food. And the hedgehog’s cages and equipment should be cleaned outside the home.

In the past turtles, chicks and hamsters have been associated with salmonella outbreaks.