How to avoid salmonella: Wash your hands after handling raw meat, seafood or poultry, and cook these foods to safe temperatures. Yep. Don’t eat raw eggs. Got it. Avoid kissing hedgehogs. Wait, what?
That’s right. Hedgehogs, which are native to Africa, Asia and Europe and an increasingly popular domestic pet in the United States, can carry salmonella. In fact, the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced the spiny animals have been linked to an 11-state outbreak of the gut-wrenching disease.
The outbreak began in October 2018 and was still going in early 2019.
The CDC notes that hedgehogs can carry salmonella even when they appear healthy. One way these animals spread the disease is through their feces, which can get on the animals themselves and also on their surroundings. Touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth can spread the infection. Germs also can transfer directly to the mouth or face if a person cuddles or kisses their hedgehog.
Salmonella is sometimes compared to the stomach flu. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and bloody stool. Some infected people, however, show no symptoms at all. On the other hand, people with impaired immune function, elderly people and people taking specific medications can by more susceptible to salmonella and dangerous complications such as dehydration.
So, if you’re considering adopting one of these critters, be aware of the risk of salmonella infection. Maybe you’d prefer a dog. You know, humanity’s best friend, and an animal not known for spreading salmonella.