Pet Food: Pig Ears Salmonella Outbreak
Chew on this: dog treats, such as pigs’ ears or other rawhide can be dangerous for humans to handle. Even though these chewable dog treats are generally taken through a curing and hardening procedure, meat-based goodies can contain dangerous bacteria such as salmonella. The pig’s ears linked to a recent salmonella outbreak have sickened forty-five individuals with twelve hospitalized. At least thirteen states have reported cases with the hardest hit being Iowa, Michigan and New York. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) the salmonella strain causing infection is salmonella enterica serotype I 4,,12: i: – and is specifically dangerous due to its resistance to a wide-range of antibiotics.
First reports surfaced back in November and have continued to as recently as in the past few weeks. As more and more cases of illness began to surface in common geographical areas, data analysis was performed and interviews conducted. Interviews with individuals having been exposed to salmonella unearthed behavioral similarities. For example, 89% of those interviewed revealed that they had contact with a dog. And, of that 89%, 71% confirmed they had purchased pigs’ ears. These patterns, and further epidemiologic evidence has convinced authorities that pig’s ears are to blame.
Both the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are working together to get this product removed from shelves. And, due to the serious health threat these popular dog treats are posing to humans coming in contact with them, the FDA is issuing a salmonellosis warning on their website. The recommendation is to dispose of all pigs’ ears as there have been no specific recalls to date and no known supplier linked to the outbreak.
Salmonellosis is potentially fatal – especially to those who are immunocompromised, very young or elderly. Symptoms typically include diarrhea, vomiting and fever. Symptoms can be severe enough to require hospitalization and generally, antibiotics are enlisted to fight off the infection. In pets, there are often no visible symptoms but when there are, they mirror those of humans and pets should see their veterinarian right away.
The CDC recommends that those with pets take precautions in handling dog treats and food- keeping separate, dedicated containers and serving utensils. Another thing to keep in mind is that if your pet is chewing on a contaminated treat and then gives you an appreciative ‘kiss,’ usually a lick, you can easily pick up the bacteria yourself. Be mindful of what your dog has had in his or her mouth and wash surfaces- including your hands and face, regularly.