WASHINGTON, DC — Hedgehogs might appear cute and cuddly on the outside, but don’t get too cozy with them — federal health officials say they’ve been linked to a Salmonella outbreak in multiple states. There have been 11 reported cases of Salmonella Typhimurium spanning eight states, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday. Ten of them involved a hedgehog and in one case someone needed to seek medical attention.
As of last week, affected states include Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas and Wyoming.
The common denominator in all but one case: contact with hedgehogs. Now the CDC is issuing a unique warning: stop kissing and snuggling the small nocturnal mammals.
“Hedgehogs can carry Salmonella germs in their droppings while appearing healthy and clean,” federal health officials wrote on the CDC’s website.
Those germs can easily spread and people can fall ill after touching hedgehogs or anything in their habitats. The CDC said people should keep pets away from food areas such as kitchens and pantries. People should consider different pets if they’re surrounded by people with weaker immune systems, such as older adults and children under 5.
In the 11 recent cases, illnesses dated from Oct. 22 to Dec. 25. The youngest patient was 2 years old and the oldest was 28.
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Ten patients said they’d bought hedgehogs from various sources, including pet stores, breeders and over the internet. A common supplier of hedgehogs has not been identified, the CDC said.
Most people who become infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps within three days of exposure. The illness usually lasts up to a week and most people recover without ever needing treatment.
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