Can Pig Ears Make You Sick?



Forty-five people have reportedly fallen ill from a strain of salmonella linked to pig ear dog treats. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) announced last week that these cases were found in 13 states and resulted in 12 hospitalizations, but no deaths.


Twelve of the cases were reported in Iowa, but there were also seven reports in Michigan and six in New York. There was at least one instance in California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Wisconsin.


The 45 cases were reported between November and June, with many occurring between February and April. The CDC interviewed 38 of the people who had salmonella, and 34 of them reported contact with a dog. A large percentage also reported contact with pig ear dog treats.


Officials from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development tested pig ear dog treats from pet stores where affected people said they buy products. The treats were sampled for salmonella and were positive for different strains of salmonella than the one that made the victims sick. The retail locations that had their treats tested removed the pig ears from their shelves. The investigation is ongoing, and no specific pig ear supplier has been identified as being the common provider in these cases.


Pet retailers should be aware of this outbreak and the potential risk to their customers. They can also advise customers to wash their hands after handling dog food and treats, including pig ears. Pet food should be stored separately from where human food is kept and prepared. It should not be easy for children to access. Pet parents should also not let their dog lick their face, mouth or open wounds after eating treats and foods. Salmonella symptoms for both pets and humans include diarrhea and vomiting.

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