Owners of pets may be placing themselves at risk of developing salmonella infections by handling beef or seafood snacks contaminated with the bacteria. On June 29, 2006 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released results from a recent study. The CDC study identified nine cases of pet owners becoming sick with a specific type of infection, called Salmonella Thompson, in 2004 and 2005, after handling pet treats from two different manufacturers. One of the manufacturers was in Washington State and the other was located in British Columbia, Canada.
“This is the third outbreak in North America, the first in the United States, but we know these animal-derived pet treats are frequently contaminated with salmonella,” said report co-author Fred Angulo, an epidemiologist at the CDC’s Division of Food borne, Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, part of the National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne, and Enteric Diseases. “There probably have been more cases,” Angulo said. “There’s certainly salmonella being brought into people’s homes on pet treats. People are probably getting sick but not attributing it to contact with pet treats,” he added.
The nine people who were in the CDC report all suffered diarrhea, one individual was hospitalized, and another experienced vomiting. In all of the cases, the illnesses were traced back to pet treats contaminated with salmonella, concluded experts, who detailed their findings in the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is also calling on pet store owners, health-care providers, veterinarians, and pet treat manufacturers to provide information to pet owners about the potential health risks of animal-derived pet treats and salmonellosis prevention. Additionally, the CDC is advising pet treat manufacturers to use heat-treatment or irradiation during processing to wipe out salmonella and other bacteria.
This crisis has been caused by the failure of manufacturers to abide by established guidelines for the preparation of pet treats, developed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to one industry spokesperson. “The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association has worked with the FDA to develop voluntary guidelines for the preparation, manufacturing and handling of all pet treats,” said the association’s general council, Ed Rod.
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