Update on Outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium Infections Linked to Pet Hedgehogs
January 14, 2021 – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health officials in several states and Canada have closed the investigation of a multistate occurrence of human Salmonella typhimurium infections linked to contact with hedgehogs.
Forty-nine cases of human Salmonella typhimurium infections were reported in 25 states between April 12 and November 24, 2020. Of 36 people interviewed, 30 reported they were recently in contact with hedgehogs before becoming sick. The ages of those infected range from less than 1 to 61, with a median age of 11. There have been no deaths; 11 people have been hospitalized. The hedgehogs were acquired from different sources, including breeders, retail and online.
The Public Health Agency of Canada also investigated an outbreak linked to hedgehogs that involved the same strain of Salmonella as this outbreak. Thirty-one cases of human Salmonella typhimurium infections were reported in six Canadian provinces, with no deaths and four hospitalizations.
Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps between six hours and six days after infection. The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most individuals recover without treatment. Children under the age of five, senior citizens and individuals with weakened immune systems have a greater risk of infection and complications.
Animals become infected with Salmonella through their environment, by eating contaminated food, or from their mothers before they are born or hatched. Regardless of where they are purchased, many animals can carry Salmonella and still appear healthy and clean. Animals with Salmonella shed the bacteria in their stool which can contaminate their body parts or items in their habitat, such as bedding, food, or water. People can be infected if they do not wash their hands after contact with animals carrying Salmonella or their environment.
The CDC and expert sources recommend these precautions to protect yourself and others from contact with Salmonella bacteria that small mammals, including hedgehogs, may carry:
- Supervise children’s interactions with the animal, including post-encounter hand-washing.
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap right after touching, feeding, or caring for a hedgehog or cleaning its habitat.
- Do not let the animal into areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored.
- Do not snuggle or kiss the animal, or touch your mouth, eat or drink around them.
To prevent cross-contamination, do not bathe animals or clean their cages or bowls in the kitchen sink, bathroom sinks or bathtubs. For bathing, use a container dedicated for that purpose. If you must use a kitchen or bathroom space to clean the habitat, disinfect thoroughly afterwards.
The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council reminds consumers that they should check their state, local, and property laws before buying any small mammal, to make sure it is legal to own one in their community. Consumers should only purchase pets from reputable pet stores or breeders. Pet retailers are encouraged to provide information on disease risk and prevention measures to consumers purchasing pets, and to employees handling these companion animals.
Though this outbreak investigation is over, CDC will continue to work with state public health partners to monitor for Salmonella infections linked to contact with pet hedgehogs.
- CDC Investigation Notice: https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/typhimurium-09-20/index.html
- Public Health Agency Canada Investigation Notice: https://www.canada.ca/en/public- health/services/public-health-notices/2020/outbreak-salmonella-infections-pet-hedgehogs.html
- PIJAC flyer containing information on Salmonella for retailers: https://pijac.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/FLYERSalmonellosis071117.pdf
- CDC information on Salmonella in small mammals, including hedgehogs: https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/pets/small-mammals/salmonella.html
- CDC information on Salmonella: https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/
- PIJAC health alerts on zoonotic diseases: https://pijac.org/animal-welfare-and-programs/zoonotic-disease-prevention/healthalerts
- PIJAC website updates on this outbreak and other zoonotic issues: http://www.pijac.org
CDC information on outbreaks of zoonotic diseases spread between animals and humans in the United States: https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/outbreaks.html