Consumers are being advised to not feed their dogs pig ear pet treats amid a growing salmonella outbreak.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration both issued new guidance Wednesday saying consumers should avoid the treats and advising retailers to stop selling them.
Public health and regulatory officials have been investigating a multistate outbreak of human salmonella infections and a suspected link to contact with the popular dog treat, which is made of smoked pig.
The warning is aimed at pet owners. While dogs can get sick, humans are the bigger concern.
So far, 127 people have been infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella in 33 states and 26 have been hospitalized, the CDC said.
There have been two voluntary recalls related to the outbreak after products tested positive for numerous types of Salmonella resulting, said Steven Solomon, director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, in a statement.
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“Given this and the links to human illness, we believe the most effective way to protect public health at this time is to warn consumers to avoid purchasing or feeding their pets all pig ear treats and for retailers not to sell these products,” Solomon said.
In early July, there were 45 cases reported. That grew to 93 with the CDC’s July 17 report.
Of the 127 cases noted in Wednesday’s report, the most were reported in Iowa with 23, followed by New York with 15 and Michigan with 12.
The 30 other states with reported cases have between one and seven cases, according to the CDC’s map.
Salmonella can affect animals eating the products, and humans are at risk from handling contaminated pet products, especially if hands have not been thoroughly washed after contact has been made with the pig ear products.
The symptoms of salmonella in humans include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps, and they usually develop 12 to 72 hours after infection, according to the CDC. The illness usually lasts four to seven days.
Some dogs may have a salmonella infection but may not look sick, the CDC said, noting dogs with an infection usually have diarrhea that may contain blood or mucus. Affected animals may seem more tired than usual, and may have a fever or vomit.
According to the CDC, 76 of 85 ill people interviewed by health officials reported contact with a dog before getting sick and of 62 people with available information 45, or 73%, “reported contact with pig ear dog treats or with dogs who were fed pig ear dog treats.”
What should pet owners do?
Here’s what the FDA and CDC are advising:
- Do not feed any pig ear treats to your dog.
- Throw them away in a secure container so that your pets and other animals can’t eat them.
- Even if some of the pig ears were fed to your dog and no one got sick, do not continue to feed them to your dog.
- Wash containers, shelves, and areas that held any pig ear dog treats with hot, soapy water. Be sure to wash your hands after handling any of these items.
- In general, if you choose to feed treats like pig ears, practice good hygiene by: monitoring your pet while they have the treat, picking up the treat when they are done with it, keeping treats away from small children, cleaning the areas the treat contacted, washing hands, and not allowing your pet to lick you, your family members, or surfaces in your home.
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