The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises the public not to kiss or snuggle with hedgehogs after the prickly animal was linked to multi-state salmonella outbreak.
As of Wednesday, the federal health agency reported 11 cases of infection from eight states. Ten of them had contact with their pet hedgehogs. One was hospitalized and there were no reported deaths.
Specifically, there were three cases from Missouri and two in Minnesota. Other states that reported a case were Mississippi, Colorado, Nebraska, Maine, Texas, and Wyoming.
The illness, with symptoms of severe stomach pain, diarrhea, and fever within 12 to three days after exposure to the bacteria, began in October to December. If not treated immediately and properly with the right antibiotics, the salmonella infection could prove to be deadly at rare occasions.
It usually lasts for four days to a week and most people survive the illness even without treatment. However, hospitalization is needed when diarrhea becomes too severe to handle.
It targets those with relatively weak immunities, such as children below 5 and elderlies who are 65 and above. With the recent cases, age of those who fell ill was between 2 to 28 years old.
Warning Against Hedgehog Care
Meanwhile, the CDC advised pet owners to be extra careful with their hedgehogs that appear clean and healthy as their droppings can still carry Salmonella germs. This can be easily transferred in their habitat, toys, beddings, and anywhere else the animals stay, so it is best to constantly wash hands with soap after holding or feeding the pet and cleaning its things.
"Don't kiss or snuggle hedgehogs, because this can spread Salmonella germs to your face and mouth and make you sick. Don't let hedgehogs roam freely in areas where food is prepared or stored, such as kitchens," the CDC further suggested.
This wasn't the first time the agency warned the public of salmonella linked with hedgehogs. In 2013, the CDC also advised people to be careful in interacting with their pets after one death was linked to the outbreak.