The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has discovered the source of a multi-state salmonella outbreak: pet hedgehogs. The agency has issued its first update on the outbreak since January 25, 2019, reporting that 17 people had contracted the particular Salmonella strain implicated in this outbreak. Contact with pet hedgehogs is the factor that links these people together and it’s backed up by laboratory evidence.
Since the CDC’s January update another half a dozen people were diagnosed under the outbreak across another three states. A total of 11 states have been named by the agency, which notes that this particular Salmonella outbreak differs from some of the others it followed over the past year. Two people ended up in the hospital due to the outbreak, but there have been zero deaths.
During its interview with individuals who contracted this Salmonella strain, experts with the CDC found that 13 out of 15 people had contact with hedgehogs prior to the start of the illness. Both epidemiological and laboratory evidence have linked the outbreak to these pets, but the agency hasn’t yet identified a single supplier between the people.
A total of eight samples were collected from hedgehogs, including three that belonged to ill patients. Though there’s no way of knowing whether your particular pet hedgehog is one of the many harboring Salmonella, the CDC says you can take steps to reduce your odds of developing an illness from it.
One of the most obvious steps is to avoid kissing your hedgehog regardless of how adorable it may be. As well, hedgehogs shouldn’t be allowed to road freely anywhere that food is stored or prepared. Pet owners should also wash their hands after holding the animal or touching its habitat and should clean items related to the hedgehog somewhere other than the kitchen.