While your little ball of fur and spikes might seem as though they want a kiss and a cuddle, there is a new worrying reason that we might have to hold off from kissing our pet hedgehog. All of those kisses could be about to have disastrous effects.
While many hedgehog owners have lived in peace alongside their pets for many years, it seems as though there’s a new worry for many: salmonella. At least 11 people have contracted the illness in America since October 2018, and 10 of those admitted to having contact with hedgehogs. It wasn’t long before people realized they had been snuggling their pets too close to their faces.
Linking the risk
Salmonella can naturally live in a hedgehog’s intestines, while others pick up the bacteria from their mothers before they are born. As if that wasn’t enough, hedgehogs can also become infected with salmonella from any contaminated food they come into contact with around the home. This can even be from fresh fruits and vegetables that have been left in their cages for longer than a few hours.
Carrying the illness
Scientists have been unable to determine what makes hedgehogs more susceptible to carrying the disease than many others. However, they warn that it can quickly spread all around the home if we’re not careful. Even touching food bowls or bedding in their cage can be enough to contract the illness. Plus, letting them snuggle in our beds or walk near kitchen counters can soon put us at risk.
Not the first time
This isn’t the first time that hedgehogs have been linked to several cases of salmonella. In fact, it all started back in 2011. Many people were connected to having caught a particular strain of the illness from their pets that led to eight people ending up in the hospital and one losing their life. It seems as though most hedgehogs don’t present any symptoms meaning it can spread all the more easily without us ever realizing.
So what are the symptoms to look out for? Having an upset stomach, a headache, feeling cold, and a fever are all warning signs that we might have contracted salmonella. Thankfully, the majority of cases will clear up within a week. However, more severe cases might result in a trip to the hospital. People with suppressed immune systems or those taking antibiotics can also be more at risk of contracting the illness.
Thankfully, being alert and practicing good hygiene, such as washing your hands after every time you handle your hedgehog or touch their cage, are both perfect ways to prevent the spread of salmonella. Sadly, it looks as though all those kisses might have to stop, too. Hedgehogs aren’t alone. Many reptiles and birds also carry the illness and should be staying away from our smooches.
Our hedgehogs might look as though they need some love, but thankfully they are solitary animals that prefer other methods of affection while we keep ourselves safe from the risk of salmonella.