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Human Salmonella Infections Linked to Small Pets

Salmonella outbreaks are linked to pets each year and 2012 saw its share illnesses linked to turtles, chicks, ducklings, and even hedgehogs.

Human Salmonella Outbreaks Linked to the Sale of Small Turtles

Thirty-four states reported a total of 248 persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Sandiego, Salmonella Pomona, and Salmonella Poona. Sixty-eight of those sickened were children 10 years of age or younger, and 33% were children 1 year of age or younger.

Although the sale of turtles with shells measuring less than 4 inches in length has been banned since 1975, 89% of the outbreak victims who reported turtle exposure specifically reported exposure to small turtles (shell length less than 4 inches).

Infection can result from either handling the turtles or other small pets, or from coming into contact with the pet’s environment, for example, water from a turtle’s container.

Human Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Hedgehogs

The CDC reported that a total of 16 persons across 7 states were infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium linked to handling hedgehogs. Fifty percent of the outbreak victims were children 10 years of age or younger.

The hedgehogs had been purchased from multiple breeders in different states. Following this outbreak, the CDC reminded the public of the steps that can be taken to prevent illness when handling small or “pocket” pets.

Salmonella Food Poisoning (Salmonellosis) Symptoms

The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to suffer severe illness following Salmonella food poisoning.

Symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning may include diarrhea (sometimes bloody), abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, headache, muscle pain, and joint pain. Symptoms usually appear within 12-72 hours after the ingestion of contaminated food.

In more severe cases, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream and other body sites. This can result in death, unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.

A Stool Culture May Confirm Salmonella Food Poisoning

If you suspect that you have contracted Salmonella, or are experiencing food poisoning symptoms, contact your doctor. He or she can order a stool culture to confirm Salmonella infection if appropriate.

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