Handle Your Pet Hedgehogs Sensibly

Hedgehogs do not make great pets. There is a hidden danger associated with the cute-faced little critters. Several folks in Minnesota have contracted doses of salmonella poisoning and there is a nationwide pattern, which medical authorities have associated with the handling of domestic hedgehogs. health authorities have identified 20 definite infections across 8 states in the year since December 2011. This is according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week.

In Washington State, four salmonella sufferers were admitted to hospital and one has died.

Hedehog Salmonella Contamination

CDC Investigation

An in-depth investigation, by the CDC found that the bacteria originated in the hedgehogs and spread by contact with them. The animals have become a popular variation on the household pet trend in many parts of the nation. 14 of 15 sufferers when questioned by the CDC said that they had had contact with a hedgehog or its living space just prior to falling sick.

However the salmonella bug is not just restricted to the spiny little creatures. It is commonplace in a number of smaller creatures such as reptiles, amphibians and of course birds. They are no outward visible signs of salmonella contamination. The animals can be carriers of the bacteria yet still be perfectly healthy.

[box type=”important”]The CDCs want to remind people about the basic hygiene practice that renders pet hedgehogs and all animals safe to have around. Washing your hands after handling them and before you touch anything else is a primary concern. Also, having separate cleaning facilities for terrariums and the like. Never wash up animal feed bowls in your kitchen sink. It simply precludes any cross contamination of your food preparation areas.[/box]

All of the reported cases of salmonella were of the same strain, ‘salmonella typhimurium’. Three of the most serious cases were in Minnesota and this state’s CDC are taking the lead in trying to educate people to the dangers. The other instances were spread across 7 different states. The link to pet hedgehogs was not 100% but Minnesota CDC say they were “almost certainly related” to contamination by contact with the creatures.

The usual source of salmonella contamination is through the food chain and bad hygiene but these cases through pet contact, are clearly more common than they used to be, or perhaps it is that we are simply more aware of it nowadays. The CDC further reported that 45% of the more recent cases had kids under 10 at the center. It is recommended that parents and adults should accompany and guide children in washing of hands after every pet encounter.


Not this Hedgehog….

Symptoms of Salmonella Contamination

The symptoms of salmonella contamination are of course diarrhea, raised temperatures, and stomach cramps that occur up to 72 hours after catching the bug. It is not an instantaneous sickness and the time lag of 12 hours plus is a signature indicator of this particular bacteria being present. The condition can be debilitating for between 4 days and a week, but patients normally recover on their own, without the need for medication.

Claire Al-Aufi

Claire Al-Aufi is a contributing author for Hive Health Media who provides updates on health and fitness news.

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