The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that keeping pet hedgehogs can lead to the spread of salmonella. The bacteria is found in the feces of many animals, including hedgehogs. People who come into contact with either the feces or the animal itself are at risk of infection that can cause diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps and dehydration. Children, the elderly and people with weak immune systems are most at risk. To combat the problem, the CDC recommends that people who own pet hedgehogs wash their hands regularly after handling them or cleaning cages.
Pet Hedgehogs May Lead to Salmonella Outbreaks, Warns CDC
Many people enjoy keeping exotic pets such as pet hedgehogs, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning that these cute creatures can carry salmonella, a harmful bacteria that can cause serious illness.
The Risks of Salmonella from Pet Hedgehogs
Salmonella is found in the feces of many animals, including pet hedgehogs. When people come into contact with the feces or even the pet hedgehog itself, it can lead to an infection. Symptoms of salmonella infection can include diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps, and dehydration. In some cases, the illness can be severe and require hospitalization.
Children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of developing serious illness from salmonella infection. In addition, pet owners who do not practice good hygiene when handling their pets or cleaning their cages are also at risk of getting sick.
How to Reduce the Risk of Salmonella Infection
The CDC recommends that pet owners take steps to reduce the risk of salmonella infection from pet hedgehogs. These include:
- Washing hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling pet hedgehogs or cleaning their cages
- Keeping pet hedgehogs and their cages clean and dry
- Never kissing or snuggling with pet hedgehogs
- Keeping pet hedgehogs away from areas where food is prepared and consumed
- Not allowing pet hedgehogs to roam freely in the house
If you or a family member experience symptoms of salmonella infection after handling a pet hedgehog, seek medical attention immediately.
Can I Get Salmonella from a Healthy Pet Hedgehog?
Yes, even healthy pet hedgehogs can carry salmonella in their feces. It is important to always practice good hygiene when handling pet hedgehogs or cleaning their cages.
Can I Keep a Pet Hedgehog if I Have Children?
While it is possible to keep a pet hedgehog if you have children, it is important to take extra precautions to reduce the risk of salmonella infection. Children should be supervised when handling pet hedgehogs and should always wash their hands thoroughly afterwards.
What Should I Do if I Think I Have Salmonella?
If you think you have salmonella, seek medical attention immediately. Salmonella can cause serious illness and even death in some cases, especially in children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems.
Can I Keep Other Exotic Pets?
While exotic pets can be fun to own, it is important to research the risks and responsibilities associated with each type of pet before bringing them into your home. Some exotic pets may carry diseases or require specialized care that can be difficult to manage.
What Should I Do if I Want to Reduce the Risk of Salmonella Infection in My Home?
In addition to practicing good hygiene when handling pets, you can reduce the risk of salmonella infection in your home by keeping your living areas clean and practicing food safety. Always wash your hands before and after handling food, and separate raw meats from other foods to prevent cross-contamination.
Pet hedgehogs can be a fun and interesting pet to own, but it is important to understand the risks associated with salmonella infection and take steps to reduce that risk. By practicing good hygiene and following the CDC’s recommendations for pet hedgehog care, you can enjoy the companionship of your pet hedgehog while keeping yourself and your family healthy and safe.