Health officials investigate Salmonella outbreak linked to guine - ABC21: Your Weather Authority

Health officials investigate Salmonella outbreak linked to guinea pigs

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(WPTA21) -

Health officials are investigating a series of Salmonella outbreaks that seem to be tied to pet guinea pigs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the investigation began after its national laboratory network identified a cluster of three Salmonella Enteritidis infections that were closely related genetically. The data was able to identify six other closely-related illnesses dating back to July 17, 2015.

A continuing investigation by the CDC, several states and the US Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service found evidence that contact with pet guinea pigs is the likely source of the salmonella outbreak.

So far, nine people were infected with the outbreak strain. One of the infected people was hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported. The infections were found in eight states, including Indiana.

People infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis, by state of residence, as of March 1, 2018

Most people infected with salmonella experience symptoms such as diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria. The illness lasts about four to seven days.

Most people recover without treatment, but in some cases, diarrhea can be so severe that patients need to be hospitalized. In rare cases, salmonella can cause death unless a patient receives prompt treatment with antibiotics.

Children younger than 5, adults older than 65 and people with weakened immune systems should take extra precautions.

The CDC said this outbreak is a reminder that pet rodents such as guinea pigs can carry Salmonella bacteria even when they look healthy and clean, regardless of where they are purchased or adopted. The CDC offered the following tips for pets and health:

  • Pick the right pet for you.
    • Pet rodents, including guinea pigs, are not recommended for families with children younger than 5 years, pregnant women, elderly adults, or people with weakened immune systems because these groups are at greater risk for serious illness.
    • Pet rodents should not be kept in childcare centers, schools, or other facilities with children younger than 5 years.
  • Wash your hands.
    • Always wash your hands immediately after touching, feeding, or caring for pet rodents or cleaning their habitats.
  • Play safely.
    • Do not kiss, nuzzle, or hold pet rodents close to your face. This can startle your pet and increase the chance it will bite you. Bites from pet rodents can spread germs and possibly make you sick.
  • Never eat, drink, or smoke while playing with or caring for your pet rodent.
    • Keep pet rodents, food and water bowls, and other supplies out of the kitchen or other areas where food is prepared, served, or consumed.
  • Be aware that pet rodents can carry germs that can contaminate surfaces in areas where they live and roam.
    • You don’t have to touch pet rodents to get sick from their germs.
    • Make sure rodent enclosures are properly secured and safe so your pet doesn’t get hurt or contaminate surfaces.
  • Clean and disinfect rodent habitats, food and water bowls, and other supplies outside your home when possible.
    • If you clean rodent supplies indoors, use a laundry sink or bathtub, and thoroughly clean and disinfect the area immediately after.
    • Never clean rodent habitats or their supplies in the kitchen sink, other food preparation areas, or the bathroom sink.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about your pet rodent’s health.
    • Your veterinarian can play a key role in helping you and your pets stay healthy.
  • Tell your healthcare provider that you have been around pet rodents, whether at home or away from the home, especially if you are sick or have been bitten or scratched.
    • Some germs carried by pet rodents can cause serious and life-threatening illness in people.

Options for Unwanted Guinea Pigs

  • Releasing unwanted pet rodents into the wild is not recommended. Many pet retailers, pet stores, local animal shelters, zoos, or animal rescues accept unwanted pets. Talk to your veterinarian about other options.
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