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Old 12-10-2013, 12:32 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Exclamation Salmonella?

So I've recently just fell on an article explaining that hedghogs carry salmonella and you need to be very careful. I've had my hedgehog for over a month and never even know this, therefor was never really careful with washing my hands after handling and that. This worries me to know if I was exposed to it. I have no clue how I didn't know this since I read books and lots of articles on hedgehogs and this is the first time I hear of this I'm now going to clean my hands way more, but I was wondering to what extent I need to clean? Should I clean just about everything she walks on and touches? I give her food baths every second day or so and to keep her warm after, I cuddle up with her in my bed on my sheets inside one of her blankets. Is this dangerous for me?

Also just out of curiosity, so they carry the salmonella on them, such as on quills or something like lizard's in their mucus stuff around them, or it it kinda dormant in her digestive system, so should be more careful with her poop and pee and saliva?
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Old 12-10-2013, 01:58 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Just wash your hands after handling them or cleaning their cage and you should be just fine.

I remember last year the CDC made a big todo about hedgehogs carrying salmonella and it's because they're exploding in popularity so people are buying them without fully understanding the sanitation needs.

I think it's more for parents buying pets for their kids because the kids don't necessarily understand that no, honey, you can't lick the turtle.
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Old 12-10-2013, 02:22 PM   #3 (permalink)
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It would be in their digestive track. Any animal, including humans can 'carry' salmonella because healthy individuals can have a subclinical (no symptoms) level infection.

Zoonosis (human infection from other animals) is not terribly common, but there are a few things to be aware of.

Here is the link to the CDC info.

I wish the CDC had investigated further, it may have been that one of the common brands of "hedgehog food" was the root cause of the outbreak.

There are typically 40,000 reported cases a year, there were 36 in this 'outbreak,' you are much more likely to be infected by imported produce or under cooked meat or eggs.

The CDC recommendations are slightly over the top (wash everything outdoors) but good hand washing practices are important with any animal. I'd actually recommend washing hands before handling hedgehogs as well as after. And always between different pets. I think it is more likely that we pass germs to them than the other way around!

If you have an infant or anyone who has a suppressed immune system extra caution is a good idea.

A solution of normal household bleach in water at a 1 part bleach to 10 parts water is one of the best and safest disinfectants around. Keep it in an opaque spray bottle and mix it fresh weekly (daily if your bottle is not opaque). Spray on and leave for 10 minutes or let air dry. This kills most everything.
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Old 12-10-2013, 02:44 PM   #4 (permalink)
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It'll depend on your personal comfort level with risk.

I don't use bleach on most things because it deteriorates materials faster, and I hate the smell. Picky! You can use white vinegar diluted in water (or any vinegar, white is just the cheapest!) as a similar disinfectant that is food-space so you don't need to be as careful washing off the residue. The smell dissipates in minutes, or you can add a bit of lemon juice to mask it (which also dissipates in minutes...)

Homebrewing suppliers also sell chlorinated tsp (Tri Sodium Phosphate) that is a food-safe disinfectant, although I think the environmental regulations on selling it in the US are different than in Canada?

My hygiene process is to wash my hands before and after handling my hedgehog, keep my hedgehog clean (using a water-only toothbrush for quill-rinses during most foot-baths), and dispose of hedgehog-waste promptly. During cleaning his cage, I use hot, soapy water, then rinse with diluted vinegar (really, more "hot water with a splash of vinegar") as both a disinfectant and a deodorizer. Laundry is the same concept: wash everything in hot with (unscented) detergent, throw in a splash of white vinegar (usually at the start of the load because I'm lazy).

But, I refused to let a friend with a compromised immune system meet my hedgehog. The risk is low, but I absolutely will not take the risk of my adorable ball of huff being an infection vector that complicates my friend's treatment. Instead, they can have endless adorable photographs.
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Old 12-10-2013, 04:24 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Be wary if you feed your hedgie boiled eggs. Eggs primary carry a lot of salmonella that usually dies off during cooking but can trigger the salmonella levels on the GI tract on whoevers eating it. I'm guessing your tap water is safer than where i'm at anyways so let's skip that. Watch out when you're feeding root crops (i.e. potato, yams, sweet potato, carrots, turnips, beets, etc.) they come in direct contact with the soil so wash and cook those very carefully.

Always wash your hands with soap and water before and after handling your hedgie. If you have other pets, wash your hands before and after handling any.

I've kept hedgehogs for 6 years now and i don't give foot baths. Yes, they do receive monthly baths or baths during quilling for the younger ones and that's it. I also keep more than 90 other exotic pets with me that i would often let loose on my bed without fear of any bacterial infection (with the exception of my turtle and tiel as they are highest risk carriers of anything!)

Also, most non-airborne bacteria and virus usually die within 3-4 hours if they don't come in contact with a vector

Just wash, wash, wash!


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Old 12-10-2013, 05:17 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I know a breeder who had her herd tested to see if any of hers had salmonella. They all did. It's a bacteria which lives in their gut, similar to how we have a ton of different bacteria which live in ours. High amounts of it will slough off the lining of the intestines during times of stress and small amounts are likely found all the time. This is an animal which spends its nights running through its own feces. Yes we give them foot baths before holding them, but you also absolutely always need to wash your hands afterwards. You can also use hand sanitiser. If you don't and you touch your food or face or somehow get anything in your mouth then you are introducing the bacteria into your digestive system. This doesn't guarantee you'll get sick, but there's a chance. Treat them like reptiles, or raw egg. If you got raw egg on your hand you would wash it before you ate a sandwich.
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careful, clean, dangerous, salmonella, sick

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