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Hedgehogs Linked to Salmonella Outbreak

Hedgehogs soared into popularity thanks to videogame star “Sonic the Hedgehog.” Now a strain of salmonella is soaring due to contact with these friendly, spiky critters. An outbreak of Salmonella typhimurium has sickened 20 people, killing 1, in 8 states since 2011. The outbreak has been traced back to hedgehogs being kept as pets. Many of the patients are children. Washington has reported the highest number of cases with others appearing in the states of Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Oregon. Children and the elderly are the most susceptible to complications from salmonella. However, anyone can contract the bacteria and become sick from it. Salmonella is common in many pets that are kept in homes today. Carriers include turtles, frogs, lizards, chicks, and ducklings. As with any of these pets, owners of hedgehogs should be cautious of the bacteria they can pick up from their spiny little friends. The CDC advises regular hand washing after handling hedgehogs, as with any of the other salmonella carriers. Other suggestions include supervision and immediate hand washing for children, cleaning habitats and cages outside of the home, and limiting where salmonella-carrying animals can go in the house, making it easier to clean up after them. Hedgehogs make great pets. Native to Western Europe and New Zealand, these fun pocket pets are captive bred in the U.S. They are generally easy to care for and live off of a diet of bugs. Yet, like with any pet, there is always the possibility of disease spread. Regular hand washing with antibacterial soap is essential to keeping exotic animals. Hand sanitizers can be handy as well, when hand washing is not immediately available, including after touching exotic pets in pet stores.   Sources: NBC News - Vitals - Fox News - Health - U.S. News & World Report - HealthDay -
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