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Hand Washing Urged After Salmonella Dry Pet Food

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, May 16, 2008 10:14 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Toxic Substances, Salmonella, Salmonellosis, Public Health

Dog food containing salmonella has been discovered over a two year period covering 19 states.  

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IMAGE SOURCE:  ©iStockPhoto/ jack Russell puppies/ author: shimmo

 

For the first time, an outbreak of salmonella bacterial infection in humans has been traced to dry dog food.  Health experts believe it could underlie many cases of infection, particularly in young children.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh, who co-authored the report isn’t sure how the salmonella bacteria got into the dog food.

The salmonella incidents occurred in 2006 and 2007 and affected an estimated 70 people across 19 states. The first outbreak was reported in Pennsylvania in May, 2006 and the strains of salmonella were identical.  By October 2007 there were a total of 70 confirmed cases of the same outbreak strain reported to the CDC.

The manufacturer recalled two brands of the pet food, produced by Mars Petcare at its Pennsylvania plant. Most of the incidents were in the Northeast and about 40 percent involved children ages three and under.

Cases were also reported as far away as California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Carolina, Virginia and Alabama.   No deaths were reported but Salmonella contamination leads to bloody diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps lasting up to a week.

Ironically the pets were not made ill by the salmonella even though it was detected in the feces samples from dogs eating the same food.

How was it contaminated?  Salmonella can result from direct contact with feces from farm animals, reptiles and pets, and can also come from undercooked meat and eggs.

The most important preventative is to wash your hands after handling pet treats, supplements vitamins and pet food, says Barton Behravesh.  Children should be kept away from pet feeding areas and young children should not touch or eat pet food.

Any plant that processes food for pets is also processing animal products and is likely the source of the contamination.

So far this year the U.S. has seen salmonella contamination coming from pet turtles, melons from Honduras, contaminated Malt-O-Meal, cantaloupes from Mexico.

And last year 47 states reported salmonella contaminated peanut butter made by Peter Pan.   #


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