11 sickened in salmonella outbreak linked to hedgehogs — CDC

Hedgehog held in hands isolated on white

Hedgehog held in hands isolated on white

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.

At least 11 people in eight states have been affected by a salmonella outbreak that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says is likely linked to pet hedgehogs. An additional three cases were reported in Missouri, with one case each in Colorado, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, Texas and Wyoming. Ten of the 11 people confirmed they had contact with a pet hedgehog before becoming sick.

There have been no reported deaths, but one person was hospitalized, according to WTKR. No deaths have been reported.

Symptoms of a salmonella infection include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps lasting four to seven days.

As the investigation into the outbreak continues, the CDC warns that hedgehog feces can transmit the illness no matter how healthy and adorable a hedgehog appears. These germs can easily spread to the animals' bodies, habitats, toys, bedding, and any surfaces where they live.

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It's still unclear if all or some of the pet hedgehogs came from "a common supplier", the CDC said. Most people don't need treatment, but in rare cases the infection can be deadly, the CDC said.

There are an estimated 1.2 million salmonella cases in the United States annually, and various foods are to blame for about 1 million of those illnesses, according to the CDC.

"Don't kiss or snuggle hedgehogs, because this can spread Salmonella germs to your face and mouth and make you sick", the agency said.

The CDC advises people to keep small pets away from areas where meals are being prepared and to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after any contact or care.

When possible, clean hedgehog habitats, toys, and supplies outside the house.

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