Multistate Outbreak of Human Salmonella Typhimurium Infections Linked to Hedgehogs
Advice to Pet Owners
Contact with hedgehogs can be a source of human Salmonella infections. Hedgehogs can be carrying Salmonella bacteria but appear healthy and clean and show no signs of illness. Salmonella bacteria are shed in their droppings and can easily contaminate their bodies and anything in the area where hedgehogs live and roam. Therefore, you should always follow these recommendations for protecting yourself and others, especially children, from contact with Salmonella bacteria that hedgehogs may carry:
Wash your hands:
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap right after touching hedgehogs or anything in the area where they live and roam. This includes after handling pet food and treats.
- Thorough hand washing is especially important before preparing, serving or eating food, drinks or preparing baby bottles. Also, always wash hands right after handling or cleaning up after your pets.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer until you are able to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
- Adults should supervise young children when washing hands.
- Pet owners should make sure their friends and family wash their hands after touching their pet hedgehogs.
Practice safe handling of hedgehogs:
- Do not let hedgehogs in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens, or outdoor patios.
- Do not snuggle or kiss hedgehogs, touch your mouth, or eat or drink around hedgehogs.
- Some hedgehogs may get ill from a Salmonella infection and can have diarrhea.
- If your hedgehog has diarrhea, see your pet’s veterinarian.
Clean up properly when handling hedgehogs:
- To prevent cross-contamination, do not bathe hedgehogs in the kitchen sink or in bathroom sinks or bathtubs. Hedgehogs should be bathed in a small plastic tub or bin that is dedicated for hedgehog use only.
- Clean any equipment or materials associated with caring for hedgehogs outside the house, such as cages or feed or water containers, or items used for bathing.
Be careful with children and hedgehogs:
- Young children are especially at risk for illness because their immune systems are still developing and because they are more likely than others to put their fingers or other items into their mouths.
- Children younger than 5 years of age should not be allowed to touch or eat pet food, treats, or supplements and should be kept away from hedgehog feeding areas to prevent illness and injury.
Persons who think they might have become ill from contact with hedgehogs should talk with their health care providers:
- Most persons infected with Salmonella bacteria develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. In some persons, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized.
Advice to Hedgehog Breeders and Stores That Sell or Display Hedgehogs
- Hedgehog breeders, pet stores, and others that sell or display hedgehogs should provide health-related information to owners and potential purchasers of these animals prior to the point of purchase. This should include information about the risk of acquiring a Salmonella infection from contact with hedgehogs, as well as appropriate precautions to reduce the risk of a Salmonella infection.