Two Minnesota children suffered salmonella infections and illnesses after coming in contact with bacteria from tainted pet food, the state Health Department reported Friday.
Testing found the same salmonella DNA patterns in the siblings, one of whom was hospitalized last month for a painful bone infection known as osteomyelitis.
Subsequent investigation found that the children’s home in the Twin Cities area contained ground turkey from the Minneapolis-based company Raws for Paws and that the pet food was contaminated.
Health officials urged pet owners to discard or return pet food with this brand and to thoroughly clean bowls or surface areas that could have come in contact with the food.
“When you’re feeding raw meat to an animal, and putting that food on the floor, any bacteria that is there will spread around,” said Carlota Medus, epidemiology supervisor for the Health Department’s food-borne diseases unit.
The company recalled all Turkey Pet Food cases with codes of 9900008 and 9900009, as well as Pet Food Combo Pack cases with codes 9900014 and 9900015.
Most people bought the food online, so the Health Department is using transaction records to reach out to other pet owners to find out if they suffered illnesses that they didn’t report, Medus said.
Roughly 700 to 1,000 illnesses each year in Minnesota are traced back to salmonella, a hardy bacteria that can live on surfaces for weeks. Diarrhea, stomach pains and fever are the most common symptoms, which can emerge within 12 hours of exposure.
Because of the risk of illness for humans and pets, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend serving raw meat to pets.
The Salmonella Reading strain involved in these infections is more commonly found in animals, Medus said. That can be problematic, she added, because strains that are rarer in humans can cause more blood infections that can lead to other complications.
Medus said this case involved young children. The sibling who was hospitalized is now recovering at home.