11 people sick with salmonella after kissing, snuggling hedgehogs

Henrietta Brewer
January 27, 2019

Those tiny, prickly, adorable mammals - which have jumped in popularity as household pets in recent years - may be carrying salmonella germs and spreading them to nearby humans, according to the CDC. You may keep their habitat clean, but the bacteria can easily spread to toys, bedding and almost anywhere they roam.

The CDC said Friday afternoon that it, along with public health officials in several states, is investigating the outbreak. Ninety-one percent of ill people told the CDC that they were in contact with hedgehogs. One was hospitalized and there were no reported deaths.

The states affected by the outbreak are Texas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, Wyoming and Colorado.

Symptoms of salmonellaA person infected with salmonella can experience diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), salmonella is the cause for 1.2 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations, and 450 deaths in the U.S. annually.

Most people recover without treatment, but some illnesses can last longer and be very severe, especially in young children, older adults, and people with compromised immune systems.

For some people, the risk of infection might be too high, so maybe a hedgehog just isn't the right pet for you - no matter how cute the little guys are.

The CDC also warned people should not "kiss or snuggle" hedgehogs because they "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".

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says pet hedgehogs are "probably" to blame for an eight-state salmonella outbreak.

If you do touch a hedgehog or clean its supplies, wash your hands immediately afterward.

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