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Salmonella Outbreaks Linked to Pig Ear Dog Treats, Backyard Poultry

The outbreaks have sickened more than 800 people in 48 states

Two separate salmonella outbreaks — one linked to pig ear dog treats, the other to backyard poultry — now have sickened more than 800 people in 48 states, health officials announced this week

Salmonella Linked to Pig Ear Dog Treats

At least 93 reported cases of salmonella in humans in 27 states have been linked to pig ear dog treats, according to the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To date at least 20 people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported, but the CDC warns that the infection is resistant to some antibiotics.

The FDA and the CDC are conducting a joint investigation to try to pinpoint the original source of the outbreak, which has yet to be identified. The agencies determined that the treats — actual dried pig ears marketed as canine chew treats — were the likely original source, as 90% of people interviewed by the agencies reported they’d had contact with a dog before getting sick. And 69% of a smaller sample of those reportedly infected said they’d had actual contact with pig ear dog treats, or dogs who’d been fed pig ear dog treats, before getting sick.

Salmonella can affect animals who consume the pig ears, and there is risk to humans from handling them, especially if they neglect to thoroughly wash their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.

Anyone who believes they have been exposed to or infected with Salmonella should monitor for some, or all, of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever, the FDA said. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

Pet Supplies Plus, a nationwide retailer of animal and veterinary supplies that has not been linked to any of the reported salmonella cases, issued on July 3 a voluntary recall of its bulk pig ear products due to the potential of contamination. The recall is limited to pig ears stocked in open bins, rather than prepackaged pig ears, from Pet Supplies Plus stores in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

For more information, consumers can reach the company by calling 734-793- 6564 between Monday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET, excluding holidays.

Anyone who has bought bulk pig ears should discard them, the FDA said in the July 3 recall announcement. 

If you think you or anyone in your household, including pets, may have come into contact with pig ear dog treats at any time since January 2019, you should:

—Dispose of the treats. The CDC recommends packing them inside a closed container before tossing them to prevent other animals from eating them out of trash receptacles.

—Immediately stop providing dogs with pig ear treats, even if a dog has eaten a pig ear treat recently and hasn't showed Salmonella symptoms.

—Dog owners should also wash the containers, shelves and areas that held the treats with hot water and soap, according to the CDC.

To prevent contracting infections from pet products in the future, you should: 

—Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after handling pet food or treats (including pig ear treats).

—Not let a dog or pet lick your mouth or face after they eat pet food or treats.

—Not let children younger than 5 touch or eat any pet food or pet treats (including pig ear treats).

Salmonella Linked to Backyard Poultry

Two deaths, 122 hospitalizations and at least another 600 reported infections in 48 states have been linked to coming into contact with backyard poultry, according to an update on the outbreak released Tuesday by the CDC. Health officials said an additional 489 cases were reported since its previous update on June 13. The spike in reported cases is likely due in part to the five additional strains of salmonella that have been added to this ongoing joint CDC and FDA investigation.

Illnesses associated with this outbreak started Jan. 1. The median age of those affected is 30 years, with a range in age of less than one year to 99 years, the CDC said. Children younger than 5 years account for at least 159 of reported cases. Officials interviews conducted with patients or their families and laboratory information confirmed the cases were linked to contact with backyard poultry.

It isn’t uncommon, the CDC said, to see an uptick in salmonella infection linked to live poultry during spring and summer months, when more people are purchasing or coming into contact with chicks, ducklings and other live poultry. In 2017, a record 1,120 cases linked to live poultry were reported in the U.S., including one case that resulted in death.

The CDC cautions that people can get sick from salmonella after touching poultry or their environment, and even birds that appear healthy and clean can carry the bacteria. 

To prevent salmonella infection from backyard poultry, you should:

—Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching poultry or anything in their environment.

—Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not immediately available.

—Not let backyard poultry inside the house.

—Be especially careful to keep poultry out of areas where food or drink are prepared, served or stored, such as kitchens or outdoor patios.

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