Poor hedgehogs are to blame in Salmonella outbreak

That pet hedgehog might not be such a great idea after all.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out a notice Friday about 11 Salmonella infections across eight states, and in all but one of the cases the people had been in contact with a pet hedgehog.

Only one person has gone to the hospital because of the outbreak, but health officials are concerned about the growing number of cases infecting people in Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas, and Wyoming.

Those infected are 2 to 28 years old and the infections started in October. The same Salmonella strain was found in three hedgehogs from two infected people’s homes in Minnesota. It’s not clear yet if a common hedgehog supplier can be traced back, but in the meantime hedgehog owners are advised to be careful.

The spiny animals carry Salmonella in their droppings — even though the animals appear fine and healthy. Then when humans touch the pets and their living areas the germs spread and people get sick, especially young children or those with already compromised health. Health officials recommend a lot of hand washing, cage cleaning, and keeping the hedgehogs out of the kitchen area. 

For some people, the risk of infection might be too high, so maybe a hedgehog just isn’t the right pet for you — no matter how cute the little guys are. As the CDC warns: “Don’t kiss or snuggle hedgehogs.”

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