Hedgehogs can carry salmonella germs, even while appearing healthy and clean.
Health officials said that the outbreak strain that has made people sick was identified in samples taken from three hedgehogs in two ill patients' homes in Minnesota. "These germs can easily spread to their bodies, habitats, toys, bedding and anything in the area where they live".
First, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said not to kiss or snuggle with your chickens; now, the agency is cautioning against PDA with pet hedgehogs. No deaths have been reported. An additional three cases were reported in Missouri, with one case each in Colorado, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, Texas and Wyoming.
In response to the infections, the CDC gave tips on how to be safe around hedgehogs, including "don't kiss, snuggle, or hold small pets close to your face".
Symptoms of the infection include fever, diarrhea and stomach pain starting 12 to 72 hours after contact.
Most people can recover without treatment, although there are cases where antibiotics or IV fluids are needed.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), salmonella is the cause for 1.2 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations, and 450 deaths in the USA annually.
Safety with pet hedgehogsA hedgehog may not be the right pet for everyone.
Since there is a greater risk of salmonella complications in children under 5, adults over 65, and people with weakened immune systems, health officials say households with these individuals might want to consider a different pet.
The CDC also recommends routinely cleaning their toys and supplies.
If you pick up a pet hedgehog, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly afterward.