Health Agencies: Tainted Dog Food Giving People Salmonella in U.S., Canada

A report from the Centers for Disease Control says that 22 people from across the U.S. have been infected with Salmonella, and the illnesses have been linked to tainted dog food. The CDC says there have been six hospitalizations, and no deaths.  The Public Health Agency of Canada has also reported two illnesses there.

The dog food, sold under multiple brand names, has already been recalled by the manufacturer, Diamond Pet Foods. The recall includes specific batches of Kirkland Signature (sold at Costco), Diamond, Country Value, Apex, Professional, and the apparently non-ironically named Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul.

For a complete list of their recalled products, which include only food produced at their Gaston, S.C. facility between December 9, 2011 and April 7, 2012, see their Recall Information Page.

How are people getting the disease from dog food?

It’s unlikely that people are getting Salmonella by munching on Fido’s food. It’s probably because, as the CDC explains, Salmonella is transmitted by the “fecal-oral route.” Excuse me, I have to go wash my hands just from typing that.

Brace yourself for these additional points from the CDC (and my completely unscientific commentary):

  • Salmonella germs can be shed in your pet’s poop for 4 to 6 weeks after infection. Yeah, Imma go wash my hands again. Or possibly roll around in some hand sanitizer.
  • If your pet is diagnosed with Salmonella infection, your veterinarian should give you advice about how to minimize spread of this germ. A mild bleach solution can be used to clean areas that may be contaminated with Salmonella germs. On a personal note, I’d probably just douse the house with Clorox just to be sure. Or maybe just burn down the house. Just in case.
  • After contact with animal feces (poop), wash your hands well with soap and running water. In related news, that’s always good advice.
  • Be sure to wash your hands with soap and running water after handling or feeding your pet. If you weren’t paying attention in Health class that day, the CDC even kindly explains how to how to wash your hands properly. Pro tip: use soap.
  • Clean up after your pet. (Also, always good advice. Especially if you are my neighbor.) If you have a dog, use a plastic bag to pick up the stool, and clean up the stool while on walks or from the yard and dispose of the stool in a tightly sealed plastic bag. If you have a cat, scoop the litter box daily and dispose of the stool in a tightly sealed plastic bag.
  • Do not share food with your pets, no matter how tempting that kibble may look.

While this particular recall is of concern right now, the CDC also cautions that in general, dry pet food and treats “often contain germs, such as Salmonella,” so these tips are good to follow all the time.
Salmonella Symptoms in Humans
Most people infected with Salmonella bacteria develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment. However, in some people, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics. Older adults, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness from Salmonella infection. More information about Salmonella, and steps people can take to reduce their risk of infection with Salmonella in general, can be found on the CDC Salmonella Web Page and the CDC Vital Signs Web Page.

Salmonella Symptoms in Pets
Dogs and cats that become ill from Salmonella infection generally will have diarrhea that may contain blood or mucus. Affected animals may seem more tired than usual, and may have a fever or vomit. Some cats do not have diarrhea, but will have a decreased appetite, fever, and excess salivation. Some dogs or cats may have Salmonella infection but may not appear to be sick. Seriously, I have no idea what you’re supposed to do with that last piece of information, except just completely freak out all. the. time.

If your dog or cat has these signs of illness or you are concerned that your pet may have Salmonella infection, please contact your pet’s veterinarian. Let your veterinarian know if your pet recently consumed a recalled product. Do not feed your pet any more of the recalled products. Dispose of the products immediately.

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto)

(via: NPR)

Read more from Joslyn at her blog, stark. raving. mad. mommy. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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