Loving on and kissing your pet hedgehog could lead to Salmonella infection according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC is investigating a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella.
So far 11 people have been infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium in eight states: Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas and Wyoming. No deaths have been reported, but one person has been hospitalized, the CDC reported in its investigation.
All but one victim reported having contact with a pet hedgehog and more than half of those infected are children. While the CDC works to identify supplier(s) involved, officials warn pet owners not to kiss or snuggle the pets to avoid transmission of Salmonella infection.
Hedgehogs can carry Salmonella in their droppings and the bacteria is easily spread. The CDC says it’s always best to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching, feeding, or caring for a hedgehog or cleaning its habitat.
- Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria.
- The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment.
- In some people, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other places in the body.
- In rare cases, Salmonella infection can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.
- Children younger than five years, adults older than 65 years, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have severe illness.
- For more information, see the CDC Salmonella website.