The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) is telling owners to avoid kissing and snuggling a popular household pet -- no matter how cute they are -- after 32 cases of Salmonella were linked to hedgehogs.
Thirty-two individuals in 17 states have been infected with Salmonella Typhimurium as of late September, with five hospitalizations. Of the 23 patients interviewed by the CDC, 16 reportedly came into contact with the small, spiky housepets.
The agency said that droppings from a hedgehog in the home of an ill New Yorker contained the strain of Salmonella that had been found in the 32 patients.
The strain, the CDC said, is identical to one that caused Salmonella outbreaks in 2012 and 2019.
While the hedgehogs themselves may appear spry and healthy, their droppings can contain the strain of Salmonella, according to the CDC, which can then easily spread to their habitats, toys and surfaces that they walk on.
The first recorded instance of this strain of Salmonella was reportedly detected on April 12. The ages of those infected range from 1 to 61 years old.
Hedgehog owners are advised by the agency to wash their hands after handling their pets, to disallow them from roaming in areas where food is prepared and to avoid snuggling and kissing them.
The agency also suggests that owners clean their pets' habitats and toys outside the house, if possible, and especially not in the kitchen.
Most Salmonella patients develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps 6 hours to 6 days after being exposed to the bacteria, and are sick for four to seven days. Some patients can weather the illness at home, while others are treated in the hospital if the bacteria spreads to their bloodstream.
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