Don’t Kiss Your Hedgehog
No matter how intense your bond with your pet hedgehog The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers this advice because Spike could be carrying salmonella.
- Since the last update on January 25, 2019, an additional six people and three states have been added to this investigation.
- A total of 17 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from 11 states.
- Two people were hospitalized and no deaths have been reported.
- Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicate that contact with pet hedgehogs is the likely source of this outbreak.
- In interviews, 13 (87 percent) of 15 ill people reported contact with a hedgehog.
- A common supplier of hedgehogs in this outbreak has not been identified.
- The outbreak strain making people sick was identified in samples collected from eight hedgehogs in Minnesota, including three hedgehogs from two ill patients’ homes.
The secret to not getting sick from a hedgehog is, in part, understanding and implementing prevention. It all begins with hand-washing. ALWAYS following handling hedgehogs, or after touching their habitat, toys or bedding wash with soap.
Kissing a hedgehog can lead to direct infection, unless you rinse your mouth out with soap right after – and actually even then you’re prone. Insure there’s always adult supervision. The CDC says, children younger under five years, adults over 65, and people with weakened immune systems are at a greater risk for serious illness. Households with these people might consider a different pet.
Hedgehog breeders, pet stores, or others that sell or display hedgehogs should provide educational materials to employees and customers.
Symptoms of Salmonella Infection
- 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.