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These Unique Pets Are Spreading Salmonella to Humans

They’re linked to an eight-state outbreak.

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned of a multistate outbreak of Salmonella infections linked to contact with pet hedgehogs.

Eleven people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella have been reported from eight states: Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas and Wyoming.

One person has been hospitalized, according to the CDC. No deaths have been reported.

Fifty-five percent of the ill people are children under 12. Ten of the 11 ill people reported contact with a pet hedgehog.

The outbreak strain making people sick was found in samples collected from three hedgehogs in two ill patients’ homes.

A common supplier of hedgehogs in this outbreak has not been identified, the CDC stated. Ill people reported buying hedgehogs from various sources, including pet stores, breeders, or online.

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Illnesses started from October 22, 2018 to December 25, 2018.

The CDC explains that hedgehogs can carry Salmonella germs in their droppings while appearing healthy and clean. Germs can easily spread to their bodies and anything in the area where they live.

Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps 12-72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria, according to the CDC. The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment.

General advice on pet hedgehogs from the CDC:

General advice on pet hedgehogs:

  • Pick the right pet for your family. Children under 5 years old, adults over 65, or people with weakened immune systems are at a greater risk for serious illness. Households with these individuals might consider a different pet.
  • Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching, feeding, or caring for a hedgehog or cleaning its habitat. Adults should supervise handwashing for young children.
  • Don’t kiss or snuggle hedgehogs, because this can spread Salmonella germs to your face and mouth and make you sick.
  • Don’t let hedgehogs roam freely in areas where food is prepared or stored, such as kitchens.
  • Clean hedgehog habitats, toys, and supplies outside the house when possible.

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