CDC Says Don’t Kiss Your Pet Hedgehogs

Written by:

PetMD Editorial
Published: January 28, 2019

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Hedgehogs have quickly become a favorite pet amongst people across the world. While they do not rival the dog or cat, you can still find Instagram accounts dedicated to the adventures of someone’s pet hedgehog.

However, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently reported that there has been an outbreak of salmonella that can be traced back to contact with hedgehogs. According to the CDC, “eleven people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from eight states.”

The investigation notice also explains that the epidemiologic and laboratory evidence points to contact with hedgehogs as the likely source of the outbreak. According to the notice, “In interviews, 10 (91 percent) of 11 ill people reported contact with a hedgehog.”

The CDC explains that “Hedgehogs can carry salmonella germs in their droppings while appearing healthy and clean. 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.”

While hedgehogs may be the source of this salmonella outbreak, the CDC does not recommend keeping them as pets. However, they do offer some tips of advice for hedgehog owners and enthusiasts to help them stay safe:

  • Always wash your hands with soap and water after touching, feeding or caring for a hedgehog—especially if you have been cleaning their habitat.

  • Do not kiss or snuggle your hedgehog. This can spread salmonella germs to your face and mouth and get you sick.

  • Clean your hedgehog’s habitat and toys outside the house. Do not clean in your kitchen or any location where food is stored, prepped or served.

  • A hedgehog is not a suitable pet for children under 5 years old or adults over 65, who may have a compromised immune system.

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