First, they came for your chickens. Now, the CDC says you need to stop snuggling your pet hedgehogs.
In a report issued Jan. 25, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta warns that 11 people have been infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella typhimurium.
One person has been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported.
The outbreak — seen in eight states so far: Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas and Wyoming — has been linked to pet hedgehogs.
Illnesses started on October 22, 2018. Those who became sick range in age from 2 to 28 years, with a median age of 12.
In 2016, the CDC issued a similar report about chickens.
“The CDC reported in its abstract that high-risk practices such as kissing birds —reported by 12 percent of case patients — and keeping poultry inside the home — reported by 46 percent of case patients — accounted in part for the increase in infections,” Cox Media Group’s National Content Desk reported.
CDC’s advice for hedgehog owners
- Hedgehogs can carry Salmonella germs in their droppings while appearing healthy and clean.
- 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.
Wash your hands
- Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching, feeding or caring for a hedgehog or cleaning its habitat. Adults should supervise hand-washing 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 habitats, toys, and supplies outside the house when possible
- Avoid cleaning these items in the kitchen or any other location where food is prepared, served, or stored.
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.