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Snuggling Your Pet Hedghog May Spread Salmonella, CDC Warns

By E.J. Mundell

MONDAY, Jan. 28 2019 (HealthDay News) -- They're cute, but cuddling a pet hedgehog could transmit potentially deadly salmonella, U.S. health officials warned Friday.

As of Jan. 23, "11 people infected with the outbreak strain ofSalmonellaTyphimurium have been reported from eight states," according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nobody has died, although one person needed to be hospitalized with the severe gastrointestinal illness.

Missouri has the most cases (3), followed by Minnesota (2 cases), and then one case each in Colorado, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, Texas and Wyoming.

Almost all cases have occurred among children, with the average patient age being 12, the CDC said. Ten of the 11 people sickened with this strain of salmonella say they handled a hedgehog before they became ill.

"A common supplier of hedgehogs has not been identified," the CDC said, but "regardless of where hedgehogs are purchased, these animals can carrysalmonellagerms that can make people sick."

Even when they appear healthy, "hedgehogs can carrySalmonellagerms in their droppings," the CDC noted. Those germs can then spread around the hedgehog's body and then to "anything in the area where they live," the agency warned.

What to do? According to the CDC, very young kids (those under 5) and seniors, as well as people whose immune systems are already weakened by medical conditions, are those most threatened if salmonella strikes.

Therefore, "households with these individuals might consider a different pet," the CDC said.

If your family does have one of these animals, the CDC urges that people "always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching, feeding or caring for a hedgehog or cleaning its habitat."

Also, if hedgehog habitats or toys require cleaning, do it outside -- away from kitchens and bathrooms.

Most of all, "play safely," CDC officials said.

"Don't kiss or snuggle hedgehogs, because this can spreadsalmonellagerms to your face and mouth and make you sick," the CDC said, and "don't let hedgehogs roam freely in areas where food is prepared or stored, such as kitchens."

Salmonella symptoms usually appear between 12 and 72 hours after infection and include cramps, diarrhea and fever, which can last up to a week.

Most people will recover without treatment, but some may require antibiotics, the CDC said. Hospitalization may be required, although deaths are rare.

More information

Find out more about salmonella illness at foodsafety.gov.

SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Jan. 25, 2019

Copyright © 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved. URL:http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=742006

Resources from HONselect: HONselect is the HON's medical search engine. It retrieves scientific articles, images, conferences and web sites on the selected subject.
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Disclaimer: The text presented on this page is not a substitute for professional medical advice. It is for your information only and may not represent your true individual medical situation. Do not hesitate to consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting a qualified healthcare professional.
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