COLORADO SPRINGS – Hedgehogs are a popular pet and they’re fairly easy to take care of. The Center for Disease Control is also telling people not to kiss or snuggle the spiky little animal. The CDC is reporting eleven people have come down with salmonella after interacting with pet hedgehogs. Cases have been reported in eight states including Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Maine, Nebraska, Texas and Wyoming.
Officials say the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium was found in samples collected from three hedgehogs at two ill patients’ homes in Minnesota. Ten of the eleven patients say they’d been in contact with a hedgehog. One person was hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported.
This is bad news for hedgehog lovers who love to spend time loving up their animals. Health officials say they can carry salmonella even if they appear to be healthy.
The CDC has several suggestions for hedgehog owners and retailers:
- People who own or come in contact with hedgehogs should take steps to stay healthy around their pet.
Hedgehogs can carry Salmonella germs in their droppings while appearing healthy and clean.
These germs can easily spread to their bodies, habitats, toys, bedding, and anything in the area where they live. People become sick after they touch hedgehogs or anything in their habitats.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after coming into contact with the animals and after cleaning their living spaces.
- Play safely and be cautious about avoiding the Salmonella germs on your face and mouth that can make you sick.
- Don’t let hedgehogs roam freely in areas where food is prepared or stored, such as kitchens.
- Clean habitats, toys, and supplies outside the house when possible. Avoid cleaning these items in the kitchen or any other location where food is prepared, served, or stored.
- Pick the right pet for your family. Children under 5 years old, adults over 65, or people with weakened immune systems are at a greater risk for serious illness. Households with these individuals might consider a different pet.
Hedgehog breeders, pet stores, or others that sell or display hedgehogs should provide educational materials to employees and customers.