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Friday, February 1, 2019

It’s So Fluffy!

If you’ve ever watched Despicable Me, you’ll remember the scene with Agnes and the stuffed white unicorn screaming about how fluffy it was. If you’re like me, you may have used the same description while petting a kitten, puppy, rabbit or any other cute little (or big) pet. Pet lovers can’t help it. We pet, we cuddle, and we kiss our beloved little creatures. Unfortunately, while our pets may seem healthy, they can and often do carry bugs that can make us sick.

Case in point, the CDC has warned owners not to kiss and snuggle your pet hedgehog as a result of a Salmonella outbreak  affecting eight states. So far 11 people have been infected with 1 person hospitalized. Thankfully, no deaths have been reported. The CDC is advising hedgehog owners to thoroughly wash their hands after handling and/or cleaning the hedgehog’s living quarters due to the fact that hedgehogs can carry Salmonella regardless of their healthy appearance.

The CDC is also warning people that children under 5 years old, the elderly, or people with weakened immune systems, are at a greater risk for serious illness. If infected with Salmonella you can experience diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria, and the illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. While most people recover without treatment, some illnesses can last longer and be very severe.

This isn’t the first outbreak associated with hedgehogs, the CDC had previously reported a 26 hedgehog-related outbreak, including one linked to a death in Washington State with 45% of the cases found to be in kids 10 or younger. Unfortunately, this is not likely to be the last outbreak associated with pets. Anyone who has ever owned a pet knows they have the capacity for the kind of unconditional love that is otherwise only seen between a human and its offspring. We love our pets and they love us. We can’t help ourselves, we love their licks, their nudges and cuddles. We just need to know that with this love also comes the chance that our pets may make us sick. 

I’m willing to take the chance. Are you?

Bugging Off!


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