October 19, 2018

Salmonella in Dog Food Harms Humans, Too

Twenty one people in New Hampshire have recently discovered what few dog owners know but should: dogs aren’t the only ones who can get sick from contaminated dog food. Joey’s Jerky brand chicken jerky dog treats were the source of Salmonella infections for at least 21 people in New Hampshire’s Merrimack and Hillsborough counties, the state health department said this week.  And this isn’t the first time contaminated dog food has been the source of human food poisoning.

Dog-and-CatThere are a number of ways humans can get sick from tainted dog food. Bacteria can spread when tainted food is spilled on the floor or countertop and not cleaned up properly.  Or, if a thorough hand-washing does not take place between feeding the dog, giving the dog a treat or picking up after the dog.

Last year, a Salmonella outbreak linked to dry dog to made by Diamond Pet Foods sickened 49 people in 20 states and two people in Canada. Ten people were hospitalized. In 2006 and 2007, a Salmonella outbreak linked to dry dog food sickened 70 people in 19 states. In 2004 and 2005,  a Salmonella outbreak that sickened nine people was associated with dry dog food.

Symptoms of a Salmonella infection, which include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps, usually develop within 12 to 72 hours after exposure and last between four and seven days. Some cases, where the infection spreads from the intestines to the blood stream, can be fatal without prompt treatment from antibiotics.

Young children are at particular risk for foodborne illness because they are more likely than adults to put their fingers in their mouths and because their immune systems aren’t completely developed.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children younger than 5 years of age should not be allowed to touch pet food or treats and infants should be kept away from the area where the dog is fed. Washing hands with soap and running water for 20 seconds, long enough to sing Happy Birthday, twice; after feeding the dog a meal or a treat or picking up after him is the best defense against illness.


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