CDC Investigating Salmonella Outbreaks Linked To Pet Hedgehogs, Bearded Dragons

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC said it is investigating two separate multistate Salmonella illness outbreaks tied to pet bearded dragons and pet hedgehogs.

Salmonella are a group of bacteria that can cause gastrointestinal illness and fever called salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. Symptoms of Salmonella infection include diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever. In some people, the illness may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized.

Regarding the Salmonella outbreak linked to contact with pet bearded dragons, CDC said an outbreak of 13 Salmonella Muenster infections has been reported in 8 states. Seven ill people, out of 11 people with information, have been hospitalized. However, there were no deaths.

Among the 13 ill people interviewed, ten reported contact with a bearded dragon before getting sick. These bearded dragons were bought from various pet stores in multiple states, but a common supplier has not been identified.

Further, pet hedgehogs likely resulted in an outbreak of 32 Salmonella Typhimurium infections in 17 states. Among these, five people were hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported. Of the 23 ill people interviewed, sixteen reported contact with pet hedgehogs before falling sick.

These hedgehogs were bought from various sources, including pet stores and breeders, but a common source of hedgehogs is yet to be identified.

CDC noted that the outbreak strain in the hedgehogs is the same as outbreaks linked to hedgehogs in 2012 and in 2019.

The agency urged all to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling pet or anything in its environment. This is especially applicable for animals that are commonly known to spread Salmonella to humans such as small mammals and reptiles.

CDC also asked not to kiss or snuggle pets, and to keep them out of kitchen and other areas of food preparation.

In August, CDC had reported multistate outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis infection linked to fresh, whole peaches supplied by Wawona Packing Company that sickened at least 68 people in nine states.

In late July, CDC had announced investigation of an outbreak of Salmonella Newport infections in 15 states affecting about 125 people.

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