Stop kissing chicks, stop stroking that hedgehog and stop touching yourself: 11 sick with Salmonella linked to hedgehogs

Every time someone introduces a new pet at the kid’s school, I see a Salmonella factory (summer holidays are over, grade 5 started today for Sorenne).

This isn’t the first time the prickly pest or pet, depending on perspective, like possums, has been linked to Salmonella Typhimurium: From December 2011 to April 2013, 26 people were infected with Salmonella typhimurium. One person died and eight people were hospitalized in that outbreak, the C.D.C. reported.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 11 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from eight states.

One person has been hospitalized and no deaths have been reported.

Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicate that contact with pet hedgehogs is the likely source of this outbreak.

In interviews, 10 (91%) of 11 ill people reported contact with a hedgehog.

Illnesses started on dates from October 22, 2018 to December 25, 2018. Ill people range in age from 2 to 28 years, with a median age of 12. Forty-five percent are female.

The outbreak strain making people sick was identified in samples collected from three hedgehogs in two ill patients’ homes in Minnesota.

Hedgehogs can carry Salmonella germs in their droppings while appearing healthy and clean.

These germs can easily spread to their bodies, habitats, toys, bedding, and anything in the area where they live. People become sick after they touch hedgehogs or anything in their habitats.

Wash your hands

Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching, feeding, or caring for a hedgehog or cleaning its habitatAdults should supervise handwashing for young children.

Play safely

Don’t kiss or snuggle hedgehogs, because this can spread Salmonella germs to your face and mouth and make you sick.

Don’t let hedgehogs roam freely in areas where food is prepared or stored, such as kitchens.

Clean habitats, toys, and supplies outside the house when possible. Avoid cleaning these items in the kitchen or any other location where food is prepared, served, or stored.

Origin of hepatitis A virus decoded

Hepatitis A virus – like HIV or Ebola as well – is likely of animal origin, according to a new large-scale study with nearly 16,000 specimens from small mammals from various continents.

hedgehogHepatitis A virus, which is found worldwide, has previously been considered to be a purely human pathogen which at most is found in isolated cases in non-human primates.

An infection with the hepatitis A virus can trigger acute inflammation of the liver which generally does not cause any symptoms in children and resolves without major complications.

“In tropical regions, nearly all young children are infected with the hepatitis A virus and from that time on, they are immune to this disease,” said Jan Felix Drexler from the Institute of Virology at the University of Bonn Medical Centre and the German Centre for Infection Research (DZIF).

By contrast, if adults become infected with the hepatitis A virus, the symptoms can be more serious, and the disease can even have a fatal outcome.

The virus has been found to date only in humans and a few non-human primates. Its origins were unknown.

Virologists from the University of Bonn Hospital, together with their colleagues, searched for viruses related to the hepatitis A virus.

They studied a total of 15,987 specimens from 209 different species of small mammals – from rodents to shrews and bats to hedgehogs.
Viruses from these mammals are very similar to the human hepatitis A virus with regard to their genetic properties, protein structures, immune response and patterns of infection.

“The seemingly purely human virus is thus most likely of animal origin,” said Drexler.

The findings may even hint at distant ancestry of the hepatitis A virus in primordial insect viruses.

“It is possible that insect viruses infected insect-eating small mammals millions of years ago and that these viruses then developed into the precursors of the hepatitis A virus,” Drexler said.

The researchers assume that small mammals were important hosts for the preservation and evolution of the viruses.

“Otherwise the hepatitis A virus would actually have gone extinct long ago in small human populations due to the lifelong immunity of the persons once infected with it,” Drexler said.

“However, patients need not fear that they could contract a hepatitis A virus infection through bats or hedgehogs,” he said.

“It has likely been a very long time since humans first contracted the hepatitis A precursor virus from animals – moreover, such incidents are very rare,” he added.

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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.

Will PB&J as a hedgehog boost Jif sales?

An 8-year-old Wisconsin girl is heading to New York City next week to compete for a $25,000 college scholarship in a national peanut butter competition for her sandwich shaped like a hedgehog.

Jif peanut butter announced Tuesday that Alexandra Miller’s sandwich created in the image of a hedgehog received enough votes in an online competition last month to earn her one of five finalist spots in the Jif Most Creative Peanut Butter Sandwich Contest (the Jif website totally sucks and I can’t find the picture; it’s also quite sexist; here’s a hedgehog, right).

The recipe, dubbed The Happy Hedgehog, places 1 tablespoon of Jif Creamy Peanut Butter and 1 teaspoon of Smucker’s sugar-free red raspberry preserve between two slices of whole wheat bread. It’s cut into a circle, with the edges pressed together to seal it. Ten pretzel sticks form the hedgehog quills, and almond slivers create ears with raisins for eyes and a Bugle chip for a nose. The hedgehog is complete with raspberry fruit strip feet, and green apple slices with peanut butter piped on top for grass.

Will the gimmick help sales?

Americans bought 41.8 million pounds of jarred peanut butter in the four-week period ending Feb. 21 – 13.3 percent less than in the same period the previous year, research firm Nielsen reported Tuesday.

The period’s sales were the lowest of any in the three years Nielsen has tracked the U.S. food, drug, and mass merchandisers segment, which includes Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the nation’s largest retailer.

Executives said last month that they were seeing weakness in Jif sales because of the outbreak, even though Jif was not affected. The company ran ads in more than 100 papers and aired national consumers saying the Jif brand is safe.

But that safety data is not publicly available. The best food producers, processors, retailers and restaurants should go above and beyond minimal government and auditor standards and sell food safety solutions directly to the public. The best organizations will use their own people to demand ingredients from the best suppliers; use a mixture of encouragement and enforcement to foster a food safety culture; and use technology to be transparent — whether it’s live webcams in the facility or real-time test results on the website — to help restore the shattered trust with the buying public.
 

Pediatrics warns against pets for toddlers

Young children should not keep hedgehogs as pets — or hamsters, baby chicks, lizards and turtles — because of risks for disease.

That’s according to the nation’s leading pediatricians group in a new report about dangers from exotic animals.

Besides evidence that they can carry dangerous and sometimes potentially deadly germs, exotic pets may be more prone than cats and dogs to bite, scratch or claw — putting children younger than 5 particularly at risk, the report says.

Young children are vulnerable because of developing immune systems plus they often put their hands in their mouths and are awkward at handling animals, the report says.

The report appears in the October edition of the American Academy of Pediatric’s medical journal, Pediatrics.

A spokesman for the International Hedgehog Association said there’s no reason to single out hedgehogs or other exotic pets.

‘‘Our recommendation is that no animal should be a pet for kids 5 and under,’’ said Z.G. Standing Bear. He runs a rescue operation near Pikes Peak, Colo. for abandoned hedgehogs, which became fad pets about 10 years ago.

Abstract

Exposure to animals can provide many benefits during the growth and development of children. However, there are potential risks associated with animal exposures, including exposure to nontraditional pets in the home and animals in public settings. Educational materials, regulations, and guidelines have been developed to minimize these risks. Pediatricians, veterinarians, and other health care professionals can provide advice on selection of appropriate pets as well as prevention of disease transmission from nontraditional pets and when children contact animals in public settings.
 

Man throws hedgehog at teenager, charged with assault

Careful with that hedgehog, Eugene, especially in New Zealand.

The Herald on Sunday say police alleged that William Singalargh, 27, picked up the hedgehog and threw it at a 15-year-old boy in the North Island east coast town of Whakatane on February 9.

Police Senior Sgt. Bruce Jenkins said Monday,

"It hit the victim in the leg, causing a large, red welt and several puncture marks."

Police arrested Singalargh shortly after the incident, and charged him with assault with a weapon — the hedgehog.

The Herald said the hedgehog was dead when it was collected as evidence, but did not know if it was dead or alive at the time of the alleged attack.

The Herald reported Singalargh’s arrest under the headline "Raise your hands and step away from the hedgehog."