As of January 23, eight states have been affected by a recent salmonella outbreak. Eleven people have fallen ill as a result of the outbreak, which is associated with symptoms such as fever, chills, and abdominal cramps. After conducting research on those infected, the CDC quickly noticed a common trend. Nine of the patients had contact with a hedgehog prior to becoming sick. The CDC is now looking at the animal as a probable source behind the outbreak, according to Fox News.
Hedgehogs may appear to be the perfect, low-maintenance pets. They have become increasingly popular pets in American homes, available in many local pet stores. However, their cute and harmless appearances conceal a very worrisome threat. Researchers believe hedgehogs carry dangerous germs that can be spread from their droppings. “Hedgehogs can carry Salmonella germs in their droppings while appearing healthy and clean,” the CDC explains.
“These germs can easily spread to their bodies, habitats, toys, bedding, and anything in the area where they live. People become sick after they touch hedgehogs or anything in their habitats.”
The states affected by this most recent outbreak include Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas, and Wyoming. Families that currently own hedgehogs as pets do not necessarily have to re-home them due to the outbreak. However, they should be very cautious when handling them and cleaning up after them. The CDC also discourages parents from allowing their children to clean the animal’s cage. At the very least, they should be sure to wear gloves and wash their hands thoroughly.
In addition, the CDC warns people to keep their pets at arm’s length. You should not “kiss or snuggle” hedgehogs because they “can spread salmonella germs to your face and mouth and make you sick,” the health protection agency said.
The supplier behind the infected hedgehogs is not yet known. While one person was hospitalized due to the salmonella outbreak, there have been no fatalities thus far. However, a hedgehog-linked salmonella outbreak in Washington in 2013 did lead to the death of one man. Those who are particularly at risk of contracting the infection include infants, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems. While a typical case of salmonella can usually be resolved in a couple weeks, severe cases might require antibiotics or hospitalization.
Hedgehogs are not the only domesticated animals to be linked to the outbreak of salmonella. Turtles and chickens have also been blamed for spreading the illness in the past.