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Salmonella linked to hedgehogs spreading

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Every hedgehog has its thorn.

Two months after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested folks not to “kiss or snuggle hedgehogs” due to a salmonella outbreak, the federal health company introduced that six extra folks in three extra states, together with Virginia, have fallen unwell after coming into contact with the prickly pets.

As of Friday, 17 folks nationwide have been contaminated with a pressure of Salmonella typhimurium that the CDC first warned in January could possibly be linked to pet hedgehogs.

No one has died, however two folks had been hospitalized.

“Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicate that contact with pet hedgehogs is the likely source of this outbreak,” the CDC mentioned in an investigation discover.

In Virginia, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors legalized family hedgehogs in January – simply days earlier than the CDC issued the primary discover that it was investigating the salmonella outbreak in reference to the creatures. A separate effort to do the identical within the District of Columbia failed in December.

It doesn’t seem that the latest legalization of pet hedgehogs in Fairfax County is linked to the 2 instances reported within the state based mostly on data from the Virginia Department of Health.

Both of the folks sickened lived within the southwest area of Virginia and “one definitely had hedgehog exposure,” mentioned Maribeth Brewster, a division spokeswoman.

“Washing hands after handling and cleaning up after these types of pets and all pets can reduce the likelihood of illness transmission,” she added.

Other states the place folks have been sickened with the salmonella pressure embody Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.

The largest variety of instances come out of Minnesota and Missouri, with three every.

Elaine Becker, who has cared for greater than 100 hedgehogs through the years by means of her work at native animal rescues in Roanoke, Virginia, mentioned having pet hedgehogs has develop into a latest fad. People have develop into enamored with the lovable creatures however don’t understand how to care for them. Household hedgehogs are normally in cages and operating on wheels, the place poop can get caught on their toes, she mentioned. Pet house owners ought to clear out hedgehog cages weekly and choose up droppings day by day – ideally with gloves to keep away from getting sick.

“After touching any animal or raw food wash your hands,” mentioned Becker, additionally a member of the Hedgehog Welfare Society and International Hedgehog Association. “You wouldn’t let your kid play with raw chicken and then let them stick their hands in their mouths.”

Hedgehogs have develop into so standard that many have their very own social media accounts. The spike in hedgehog demand has additionally lead sure jurisdictions lately to carry bans on having them as pets.

Officials recognized the salmonella pressure within the latest outbreak after finding out samples collected from eight hedgehogs in Minnesota, together with three that had been within the houses of two individuals who obtained sick. Most of those that have fallen unwell seem to be younger kids, in accordance to the CDC.

Of the folks interviewed, 13 out of 15 mentioned the had contact with a hedgehog earlier than they fell sick, however the CDC mentioned it has not recognized a standard provider that could be the supply of the outbreak.

“Hedgehogs can carry Salmonella germs in their droppings while appearing healthy and clean,” the CDC warned.

But some longtime lovers of the pincushions incarnate say the latest CDC hedgehog warning is hogwash.

Zug Standing Bear, who has cared for greater than 500 hedgehogs in 20 years by means of his rescue based mostly in Colorado, mentioned the latest warning from the CDC echoes an alert the company despatched in 2012. That 12 months, the CDC reported 20 instances of salmonella – together with one demise – in eight states the place a hedgehog was in the home of somebody sickened.

Standing Bear mentioned the hedgehog-related sickness could possibly be random statistically and it shouldn’t deter folks from responsibly proudly owning one as a pet.

Becker mentioned the latest CDC alert unfairly singles out hedgehogs. Many family pets, akin to turtles and birds, can carry salmonella, Becker mentioned. Following frequent sense hygiene guidelines and doing analysis earlier than shopping for a hedgehog – or any pet – can stop issues.

“They can make wonderful pets, but they’re not for everyone,” Becker mentioned. “If you can’t handle the poop and feeding them meal worms, get a stuffed animal.”

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