1 dead, 19 sick; hedgehog alert; prickly pets can carry salmonella

Every time someone introduces a new pet at the kid’s school, I see Salmonella.

This week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control documents an outbreak of Salmonella hedgehog.salm.jan.13Typhimurium that has sickened at least 20 people and linked to handling hedgehogs.

The median patient age was 13 years (range: <1–91 years); 55% of patients were female. Four patients were hospitalized. One death associated with Salmonella infection has been reported. Fourteen out of 15 patients (or their proxies) reported direct or indirect contact between the patient and a hedgehog during the week before illness onset. The hedgehogs were purchased from various hedgehog breeders, many of whom were USDA-APHIS licensed, in several states.

Other pets that carry the salmonella bug are frogs, toads, turtles, snakes, lizards, chicks and ducklings.