The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning on Friday that 11 people across the country have been infected with an illness transmitted by pet hedgehogs.
The bacterial infection, caused by a certain strain of Salmonella, was found in samples collected from hedgehogs in some of the infected peoples’ homes.
Ten of the 11 infected people confirmed recent contact with hedgehogs, and one person is now hospitalized because of the illness. More than half of the cases were in children under the age of 12.
There isn’t any common supplier of hedgehogs that links the 11 cases, according to the CDC, which is investigating the matter. As the investigation into the outbreak continues, the CDC warns that hedgehog feces can transmit the illness no matter how healthy and adorable a hedgehog appears.
The states affected by the outbreak are Texas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, Wyoming and Colorado.
Although the current outbreak has been linked to hedgehogs, any small reptile or amphibian, including turtles, snakes and frogs, can transmit this illness. The CDC recommends
people with weakened immune systems — such as those who have sickle cell disease — not keep these particular animals as pets since they are more prone to contracting severe Salmonella infections.
Symptoms of the infection include fever, diarrhea and stomach pain starting 12 to 72 hours after contact. Most people’s Salmonella infections resolve on their own after four to seven days, but in rare cases, the infection can be deadly.
The CDC advises people to keep small pets away from areas where meals are being prepared and to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after any contact or care.
Dr. Azka Afzal is a resident physician at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and a member of the ABC News Medical Unit.