CDC: Snuggling, kissing pet hedgehogs can lead to salmonella poisoning

ATLANTA -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Protection  issued a warning to pet owners Friday to not “kiss or snuggle” their hedgehogs because of a risk of contracting Salmonella.

The CDC reports that 11 people in 8 states have gotten sick. No one has died, however one person was hospitalized.

The illnesses started back in October. 10 of the 11 patients said they'd been in contact with a pet hedgehog before they got sick, according to the agency.

Symptoms of salmonella infection include fever, diarrhea and stomach cramps.  These can last four to seven days.

Most patients recover from salmonella poisoning without treatment, however those who experience severe illness can die from the infection if not treated promptly with antibiotics.

The CDC says even hedgehogs that look clean and healthy can carry salmonella, which shows up in their droppings.

You may keep their habitat clean, however the bacteria can easily spread to toys, bed and anywhere they go.

Experts say hedgehogs should have room to roam, which is beneficial to their physical and mental health, but the CDC advises against letting them wander freely in areas where you prepare food.

The CDC also recommends routinely cleaning their toys and supplies.

Lastly, the agency says that if you do pick up a pet hedgehog, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands afterwards.

More on salmonella, here.

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