Federal health officials are investigating a multistate outbreak of salmonella that’s tied to pet hedgehogs.
As of Sept. 22, more than 30 people from 17 states have reported infection with salmonella typhimurium, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No deaths have been linked to the cases, though five people have been hospitalized.
“The outbreak strain making people sick was identified in samples collected from a hedgehog in the home of an ill person in New York,” the CDC said.
In subsequent interviews, the CDC discovered that 70% of the reported illnesses involved people who had contact with a hedgehog.
While the patients reported buying hedgehogs from pet stores, breeders or online shops, the CDC warned that “a common source of hedgehogs has not been identified.”
The animals can carry salmonella germs in their droppings despite appearing to be healthy and clean, the agency noted.
“These germs can easily spread to their bodies, habitats, toys, bedding, and anything in the area where they live,” the CDC said.
People can become infected by either touching the hedgehog or items in their habitat and then touching their faces or mouths, the agency added.