What You Need to Know About the Hedgehog Salmonella Outbreak



Most pet retailers are already familiar with salmonella warnings connected to turtles, but they may not know that they can also apply to hedgehogs. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) released a report that named pet hedgehogs as a possible cause of a salmonella outbreak in multiple states. At the end of March, the CDC issued an update that listed three more affected states and a total of 17 salmonella cases. The health protection agency further confirmed that contact with pet hedgehogs was the illness’ cause in the majority of these cases. Pet retailers should keep on top of these kinds of important warnings, so they can relay them to their customers.


The original states included in the warning were Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Texas, Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming. The March update reported cases in Iowa, Washington and Virginia. The CDC interviewed 15 of the individuals infected with salmonella and found that 13 of them experienced contact with a pet hedgehog before becoming ill. The agency also collected samples from eight hedgehogs belonging to the individuals and found evidence of the same strain of salmonella that infected the humans.


The CDC’s public health investigators advise hedgehog owners to be careful when handling their pets and to wash their hands after handling. They also said that a hedgehog’s environment should be kept clean, as salmonella can be picked up from objects in the habitat, as well as the hedgehog itself. Hedgehog owners should also abstain from kissing their pets and limit their pets’ exposure to areas where food is prepared and eaten. Pet retailers can pass these tips on to customers who own hedgehogs so that they can interact safely with their pets.


Retailers should also know the symptoms of salmonella in order to further inform their customers. According to the CDC, “most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria.” The sickness usually lasts four days to a week and most people recover without receiving treatment. However, children under five years old, adults over 65 and people with compromised immune systems are more likely to suffer more severely. Though no deaths were reported in this most recent salmonella outbreak, two of the victims were hospitalized.


This recent CDC report also illustrates how pet retailers should be keep in mind the needs of customers who own unusual types of pets. By being an informed about current happenings in the pet world in all different categories, retailers can serve as a valuable and helpful source of advice to their customers.  


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