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Hedgehog hazard: They can make you sick

Posted by: Colleen Stoxen Updated: January 31, 2013 - 2:54 PM

Hedgehogs: Kind of irresistable but now on the list of pets that can make you sick (frogs, turtles, snakes, chicks ...).

In the past year, 20 people were infected by a rare but dangerous form of salmonella bacteria, and one person died in January. The illnesses were linked to contact with hedgehogs kept as pets, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

Seven of the hedgehog illnesses were in Washington state, including the death. The other cases were in Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Oregon.

In years past, only one or two illnesses from this salmonella strain have been reported annually, but the numbers rose to 14 in 2011, 18 last year, and two so far this year.

The CDC recommends thoroughly washing your hands after handling hedgehogs and cleaning pet cages and other equipment outside.

Other pets that carry the salmonella bug are frogs, toads, turtles, snakes, lizards, chicks and ducklings.

Children younger than five and the elderly are considered at highest risk for severe illness, CDC officials said.

--ASSOCIATED PRESS

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