The CDC (Center for Disease Control) just recently reported that Since October 2018, 11 people across eight states have been infected with a specific strain of Salmonella. Out of the 11 cases, 10 of the individuals had contact with a hedgehog. There have been no reports of death, but one person was hospitalized. Three cases were reported in Missouri and two in Minnesota. Other states with reported infections were Colorado and Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, Texas and Wyoming.
According to the C.D.C., animals can pick up Salmonella from contaminated food and some have Salmonella living naturally in their intestines. Pet hedgehogs may not show signs of sickness, but they can spread Salmonella through their droppings. Hedgehogs can pass the germs to their surroundings (toys, towels, bedding), making humans vulnerable if they handle those objects.
This is not the first time these adorable pets have been linked to Salmonella. From December 2011 to April 2013, 26 people were infected with the same strain and most cases reported contact with a pet hedgehog. Scientists are not sure exactly why pet hedgehogs are more prone to transmitting Salmonella than other animals. The C.D.C. reports that many hedgehog owners will leave the veggies and fruits that their pets eat exposed in their cages for hours. This is a common mistake and can be correlated to the spread of bacteria and disease through their food. Some Medical experts advise that individuals with compromised immune systems should choose a pet that possesses a lower risk, such as a dog.
It is advised that you never cuddle or kiss your pet hedgehog. Always wash your hands after handling these pets and have a thorough cleaning regimen for the spaces they inhabit. The pet hedgehogs should be kept away from human beds and countertops. If cuddling and affection is on your list of musts for a pet, a dog or cat is your safest choice.