The CDC is warning that pet hedgehogs have caused an outbreak of Salmonella. One of the most common types of food poisoning, Salmonella can lead to serious illness or death.
As Salmonella is usually found in undercooked meats and in eggs, people may not realize that the bacteria can be carried on their pets. Certain strains of Salmonella are carried in pet feces and can then be transferred to humans. Particularly, iguanas and other lizards, turtles, hedgehogs, sugar gliders, and baby chicks can carry the bacteria, as stated by the University of Wisconsin.
According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control, there have been 20 recent cases of Salmonella Typhimurium reported from eight different states. Ninety-three percent of those interviewed after contracting the illness reported contact with hedgehogs. Several specifically had contact with African Pygmy hedgehogs, which have become popular pets.
The report details that they have received reports of cases in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Oregon, Washington, Alabama, Illinois, and Minnesota.
The CDC recommends that anyone handling a hedgehog should wash their hands thoroughly after contact. Any surfaces that the pets come in contact with should be sterilized with bleach.
Pet owners may not realize that their hedgehogs are carrying Salmonella. Although it causes serious illness in humans, hedgehogs can carry the bacteria without displaying any ill effects.
Hedgehogs that have caused the recent Salmonella outbreak are carrying a particularly rare strain. four people have been hospitalized due to the seriousness of their symptoms and the bacteria has caused the death of one.