Photo: vetmed.illinois.edu

A CDC investigation notice of a multistate outbreak of Salmonella infections linked to contact with pet hedgehogs has been posted: https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/typhimurium-01-19/index.html.

Key points:

  • Eleven people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella have been reported from eight states (CO, ME, MN, MS, MO, NE, TX, WY).
  • One person has been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
  • Fifty-five percent of the ill people are children under 12.
  • Ten of the 11 ill people reported contact with a pet hedgehog.
  • The outbreak strain making people sick was found in samples collected from three hedgehogs in two ill patients’ homes.
  • A common supplier of hedgehogs in this outbreak has not been identified. Ill people reported buying hedgehogs from various sources, including pet stores, breeders, or online.
  • Illnesses started from October 22, 2018 to December 25, 2018.
  • CDC continues to monitor PulseNet to identify illnesses that may be part of this outbreak.
  • This investigation is ongoing, and CDC will provide updates when more information becomes available.

General advice on pet hedgehogs:

  • Hedgehogs can carry Salmonella germs in their droppings while appearing healthy and clean. Germs can easily spread to their bodies and anything in the area where they live.
  • 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.
  • Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching, feeding, or caring for a hedgehog or cleaning its habitat. Adults should supervise handwashing 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 hedgehog habitats, toys, and supplies outside the house when possible.

Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps 12-72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment.

If you have questions about cases in a particular state, please call that state’s health department.

Information direct from CDC

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