TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a warning for some animal lovers: don’t kiss your pet hedgehogs.
“CDC and public health officials in several states are investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella … infections linked to contact with pet hedgehogs,” a notice on the agency’s website reads. “Don’t kiss or snuggle hedgehogs because this can spread salmonella germs to your face and mouth and make you sick.”
Health officials said 11 people reported feeling sick nationwide. One person was hospitalized, but no deaths were reported. The cases were reported in Missouri, Minnestoa, Texas, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska and Wyoming.
“Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicate that contact with pet hedgehogs is the likely source of this outbreak,” the notice states.
The CDC said a strain of Salmonella was found in samples collected from hedgehogs in two ill patients’ homes.
Animals can be infected with salmonella by eating contaminated food. The bacteria can live naturally in their intestinal tracts. An infection can also occur before birth.
Salmonella causes about 1.2 million illnessses, 23,000 hospitalizations and 450 deaths in the United States each year, the CDC estimates.
Symptoms of salmonella include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramping and can occur within 12 and 72 hours of consuming the infected item.
The CDC is advising owners to wash their hands after touching a hedgehog and to keep the pet away from the kitchen.