Seven salmonella cases in WA linked to contact with hedgehogs

hedgehogSeven cases of salmonella infection in Washington residents – including a case in Whitman County – have been linked to a national outbreak traced to contact with hedgehogs.

The state Department of Health is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other states to investigate illnesses associated with the animals. The Washington cases, including one death, were reported over the past year.

Tests have shown the specific type of salmonella matches that found in 20 people from seven other states across the country.

Pet hedgehogs can carry salmonella and other diseases, even if the animals do not appear to be sick. People can be infected during routine pet care for hedgehogs, which can shed bacteria that can contaminate cages, toys, bedding, or household surfaces. Even without touching a hedgehog, people can be infected by touching objects contaminated by infected animals.

The Department of Health recommends that hedgehog owners make sure to wash hands with soap and water after handling the animals and, as well as any other materials or surfaces used for pet care.

The cases in Washington have come from Whitman, King, Pierce, Thurston, Clark, and Spokane counties.

Before this year, Washington had one reported case of salmonella related to hedgehogs in 2005. (Washington Department of Health)

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