CDC Warns Animal Lovers Not to Kiss Hedgehogs Due to 8-State Salmonella Outbreak

There have been 11 reported cases of Salmonella infections across eight states linked to this outbreak

Woman holding hedgehog while sitting on bed
Photo: Kirill Bordon/Aurora Photos/Getty

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is warning hedgehog owners to keep cuddles with their pets to a minimum.

According to the CDC, public health officials from several states are investigating a Salmonella outbreak across multiple states that has been “linked to contact with pet hedgehogs.”

The outbreak strain, Salmonella Typhimurium, has infected 11 people across eight states — Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Texas, Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming — based on the cases reported so far. There has been one hospitalization, but no deaths connected to this outbreak.

The CDC believes that hedgehogs are behind this outbreak because of “epidemiologic and laboratory evidence.” Ten of the 11 individuals infected by the strain had come in contact with a hedgehog shortly before becoming ill. Additionally, samples collected from three different hedgehogs living in the homes of the infected individuals contained Salmonella Typhimurium.

The supplier of these hedgehogs has yet to be identified, so the CDC is warning all hedgehog owners to be cautious.

Hedgehogs spread Salmonella germs through their droppings.

“These germs can easily spread to their bodies, habitats, toys, bedding, and anything in the area where they live. People become sick after they touch hedgehogs or anything in their habitats,” the CDC wrote about the outbreak, adding that hedgehogs carrying the germs may appear healthy.

To protect yourself, your hedgehog and those handling your pet, the CDC recommends that anyone who comes in contact with a hedgehog or something a hedgehog has touched wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water.

“Don’t kiss or snuggle hedgehogs, because this can spread Salmonella germs to your face and mouth and make you sick,” the CDC added about close contact with the pets.

The organization also advised hedgehog owners keep their pets and their pets’ supplies in one area, away from the kitchen. Hedgehogs should not be allowed to roam freely around a home.

“Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria,” the CDC wrote of the infection’s symptoms.

Often the illnesses caused by these infections clear up on their own in four to seven days, but symptoms can be severe enough to lead to hospitalization or death, especially in those under 5 or over 65 years of age.

The CDC said there is an ongoing investigation into this outbreak. Updates on the investigation are available at the CDC’s website.

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