Hedgehogs 'probably' to blame for salmonella outbreak; stop snuggling them — CDC

Hedgehog held in hands isolated on white

Hedgehog held in hands isolated on white

The patients were all interviewed and 91% reported that they had been in contact with a hedgehog.

Hedgehogs can carry salmonella even if they appear healthy.

Researchers collected samples from hedgehogs in the two Minnesota patients' homes and identified the strain of salmonella that was making people sick. These germs can then spread to their living spaces, toys, and bedding, which can make caretakers sick.

Pet experts say hedgehogs should have room to roam, as they can become depressed or fat without that.

Last week, Whole Foods recalled various items in eight states over fears they contain salmonella. No deaths have been reported.

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. Most people recover without treatment.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), salmonella is the cause for 1.2 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations, and 450 deaths in the United States annually. If not treated immediately and properly with the right antibiotics, the salmonella infection could prove to be deadly at rare occasions.

Since there is a greater risk of salmonella complications in children under 5, adults over 65, and people with weakened immune systems, health officials say households with these individuals might want to consider a different pet.

Watch out for cute hedgehogs: The Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) just linked a recent salmonella outbreak to the small animals.

The CDC also recommends routinely cleaning their toys and supplies.

Those who own hedgehogs as pets are urged to always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching, feeding, or caring for a hedgehog.

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