Perspective

Pet hedgehogs cause multistate outbreak of Salmonella

Colin Basler, MD
Colin Basler

Health officials have linked a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium infections to contact with pet hedgehogs, the CDC reported.

As of Jan. 25, there have been 11 cases reported in eight states, with one hospitalization and no deaths. The CDC said 91% of people reporting infection had contact with a hedgehog 1 week before illness onset, although no common supplier has been identified. According to the agency, 45% of the outbreak population is female and the median age of the patients is 12 years.

In Minnesota, samples collected from three hedgehogs in two patients’ homes tested positive for the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium.

“We are still early in our investigation, and there is a 2- to 3-week time period between when people become ill and when those cases are reported to CDC. Therefore, we may get more reports of ill people,” CDC epidemiologist Colin Basler, DVM, MPH, told Infectious Disease News. “We know that hedgehogs can carry Salmonella and appear healthy and clean. People who own hedgehogs should follow prevention tips to keep themselves and their hedgehog healthy.”

GIrl holding a hedgehog 
Hedgehogs are linked to a multistate outbreak of Salmonella.
Source: Adobe Stock

The CDC recommends that people wash their hands after exposure to hedgehogs, refrain from kissing or snuggling the animals, keep the pets out of the kitchen and away from food areas and routinely clean their habitat, toys and other pet supplies.

Adults aged 65 years or older, children aged 5 years or younger and people with weakened immune systems are at the greatest risk for serious illness. The CDC suggests choosing a different pet for households with these individuals.

Since 2017, other multistate Salmonella outbreaks have been linked to pet turtles and pet guinea pigs. Puppies also recently have been found to be a source of infectious pathogens.

The investigation into the outbreak associated with pet hedgehogs is ongoing, and the CDC said it will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.

“Clinicians who are working with young children, older adults, or immunocompromised individuals should remind patients that some pets can carry germs that could make their patients sick,” Basler said. – by Marley Ghizzone

Reference:

CDC. Outbreak of Salmonella infections linked to pet hedgehogs. https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/typhimurium-01-19/index.html. Accessed January 29, 2019.

Disclosure: Basler reports no relevant financial disclosures.

Colin Basler, MD
Colin Basler

Health officials have linked a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium infections to contact with pet hedgehogs, the CDC reported.

As of Jan. 25, there have been 11 cases reported in eight states, with one hospitalization and no deaths. The CDC said 91% of people reporting infection had contact with a hedgehog 1 week before illness onset, although no common supplier has been identified. According to the agency, 45% of the outbreak population is female and the median age of the patients is 12 years.

In Minnesota, samples collected from three hedgehogs in two patients’ homes tested positive for the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium.

“We are still early in our investigation, and there is a 2- to 3-week time period between when people become ill and when those cases are reported to CDC. Therefore, we may get more reports of ill people,” CDC epidemiologist Colin Basler, DVM, MPH, told Infectious Disease News. “We know that hedgehogs can carry Salmonella and appear healthy and clean. People who own hedgehogs should follow prevention tips to keep themselves and their hedgehog healthy.”

GIrl holding a hedgehog 
Hedgehogs are linked to a multistate outbreak of Salmonella.
Source: Adobe Stock

The CDC recommends that people wash their hands after exposure to hedgehogs, refrain from kissing or snuggling the animals, keep the pets out of the kitchen and away from food areas and routinely clean their habitat, toys and other pet supplies.

Adults aged 65 years or older, children aged 5 years or younger and people with weakened immune systems are at the greatest risk for serious illness. The CDC suggests choosing a different pet for households with these individuals.

Since 2017, other multistate Salmonella outbreaks have been linked to pet turtles and pet guinea pigs. Puppies also recently have been found to be a source of infectious pathogens.

The investigation into the outbreak associated with pet hedgehogs is ongoing, and the CDC said it will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.

“Clinicians who are working with young children, older adults, or immunocompromised individuals should remind patients that some pets can carry germs that could make their patients sick,” Basler said. – by Marley Ghizzone

Reference:

CDC. Outbreak of Salmonella infections linked to pet hedgehogs. https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/typhimurium-01-19/index.html. Accessed January 29, 2019.

Disclosure: Basler reports no relevant financial disclosures.

    Perspective
    Joseph A. Bocchini Jr.

    Joseph A. Bocchini Jr.

    Eleven percent of Salmonella infections in the United States each year result from animal exposures. Animals are typically asymptomatic and transmit Salmonella by direct contact or contamination of the environment. Infections occur at home and with contact with animals at public venues. Outbreaks such as this one have been identified through the CDC’s surveillance network.  
    This outbreak reminds us that Salmonella infections are widespread in animals the public considers as pets. Hedgehogs, other nontraditional pets, including rodents, reptiles and amphibians and domestic animals have been associated with zoonotic Salmonella infections. An increasing number of recently identified outbreaks have been related to the backyard poultry trend. Salmonella infections are especially dangerous to children aged younger than 5 years, immunosuppressed persons and adults aged 65 years and older.
    Safe pet ownership and contact with animals in public venues can provide many benefits to children and adults. However, injuries, allergies and infections can result from contact with animals. Physicians and veterinarians can offer advice and anticipatory guidance about pet-related hazards, appropriate pet selection and safe pet ownership so that risks to people can be minimized. Primary care providers should include pet ownership questions in well child and adult care and, in particular, for families with young children, immune compromised persons or older adults. The CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics and American Veterinary Medical Association have multiple resources available for families and providers.

    • Joseph A. Bocchini Jr., MD, FAAP
    • Professor and chairman, department of pediatrics Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, Shreveport

    Disclosures: Bocchini reports no relevant financial disclosures.