October 19, 2019

CDC Updates Pig Ear Dog Treat Salmonella Outbreak; 127 Sick

The multistate pig ear dog treat Salmonella outbreak has now sickened at least 127 people in 33 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Twenty-six people have been hospitalized because they are so sick. No deaths have been reported to date. Since the last update on July 17, 2019, 34 more ill persons have been added to the outbreak total. Twenty-four of these patients are children under the age of 5.

The CDC and FDA are now telling people not to buy or feed any pig ear dog treats to pets, including any that you may already have in your home. People can get sick after touching the treats, or after caring for or touching dogs who ate the snack.

CDC Updates Pig Ear Dog Treat Salmonella Outbreak; 127 Sick

The case count by state is: Alabama (1), Arizona (1), California (1), Colorado (3), Connecticut (1), Florida (3), Georgia (2), Hawaii (1), Illinois (7), Indiana (5), Iowa (23), Kansas (3), Kentucky (6), Louisiana (1), Maine (1), Massachusetts (4), Michigan (12), Minnesota (1), Missouri (6), New Hampshire (1), New Jersey (2), New Mexico (1), New York (15), North Carolina (2), North Dakota (1), Ohio (5), Oregon (2), Pennsylvania (6), South Carolina (2), Texas (2), Utah (1), Washington (1) and Wisconsin (4). Illness onset dates range from June 16, 2015 to July 6, 2019. The patient age range is from less than 1 year to 90 years. Thirty percent have been hospitalized, which is 50% higher than a typical Salmonella outbreak.

This outbreak is caused by several different serotypes of Salmonella bacteria, including Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:-, Infantis, Newport, and London. Seventy of the isolates taken from ill persons had predicted antibiotic resistance or decreased susceptibility to one or more of these antibiotics: amoxicillin-clavulanic acid, ampicillin, cefoxitin, ceftriaxone, ciprofloxacin, gentamicin, kanamycin, nalidixic acid, streptomycin, sulfisoxazole, and tetracycline. This can make these infections more difficult to treat.

Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback evidence found that contact with pig ear dog treats is the likely source of this outbreak. Eighty-nine percent of ill persons interviewed said they had contact with a dog before they got sick. And 73% of people who provided information said they had contact with pig ear dog treats or dogs who were fed those treats before they got sick.

Attorney Fred Pritzker

Attorney Fred Pritzker, who has represented clients sickened with Salmonella infections, said, “No one should get sick because they purchased treats for their dog.” Call 1-888-377-8900 for help.

Officials from Kansas, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and the FDA collected pig ears at retail locations where the ill persons said they shopped. Testing found many different strains of Salmonella. A search of PulseNet, the national subtyping database, found that people had been infected with some of these strains, including Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella London, and Salmonella Newport. Some of those illnesses date back to 2015. Those people were added to the outbreak investigation.

More strains of Salmonella were isolated from some of these pig ears. Those strains are Salmonella Panama, Salmonella Brandenburg, Salmonella Anatum, and Salmonella Livingstone. Investigators are looking to see if any human illnesses are linked to those strains.

Some of the pig ears were imported from Argentina and Brazil. Labels indicated that the pig ears were irradiated, which should kill bacteria. But finding Salmonella on those products shows that they may not have been irradiated or that there was another problem that caused the contamination.

A single supplier, distributor, or common brand of the pig ears has not been identified. Two companies have recalled their product. Pet Supplies Plus recalled bulk pig ears on July 3, 2019. And Lennox recalled pig ears on July 26, 2019 and updated that recall on July 30, 2019 to include more product information.  The CDC notice states “These recalls do not account for all of the illnesses in this outbreak.”

Symptoms of a Salmonella infection include a fever, nausea, vomiting, chills, stomach and abdominal cramps, and diarrhea that may be bloody. People usually get sick 12 to 72 hours after ingesting the pathogen.

Most people get better on their own; in fact, so few people see a doctor or report this illness that officials think that 30 times more people are sickened in an outbreak than the numbers indicate. But the long term complications of a Salmonella infection can be serious, even after complete recovery, including irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, and high blood pressure.

It’s really important to keep kids away from these treats. Store pet food away from children. Don’t let your dog lick your mouth or face or your child’s after it eats. Wash your hands after playing with your dog when it has just eaten. Adults should supervise handwashing for young children.

If you have had pig ear pet treats in your home, and have been ill with these symptoms, see your doctor. You could be part of this Salmonella outbreak.

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