Hedgehogs have now stuck America with yet another Salmonella outbreak, 32 reported cases and five hospitalizations in 17 states so far
A man, a hedgehog, and a bearded dragon walk into a bar. The man then gets a Salmonella infection.
That’s not the best version of the classic bar joke, but it is a possibility if you get too close to either a hedgehog or a bearded dragon. Hedgehogs have now stuck America with yet another Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak. It’s resulted in 32 reported cases and five hospitalizations in 17 states so far, according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC). At the same time, bearded dragons have tipped the scales with a Salmonella Muenster outbreak. This second outbreak has left at least 13 people sick with seven hospitalizations in 13 states, as the CDC described.
If you are a hedgehog fund manager or anyone else who follows hedgehogs, you may realize that this ain’t the first time that they’ve caused such a prickly situation. Just last year, I covered for Forbes a previous hedgehog-induced Salmonella outbreak that eventually sickened at least 54 people across 23 states. That’s sick, but not in a good way. A Salmonella infection typically results in four to seven days of diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. However, if the Salmonella gets into your bloodstream, the bacteria can wreak more havoc and even cause life-threatening complications. The last time the CDC reported a bearded dragon-related Salmonella outbreak was back in 2014.
If you check the pictures on their photo I.D.’s and Amazon purchases, you’ll find that hedgehogs and bearded dragons tend to be quite different from each other. Nevertheless, when it comes to preventing infections, take similar precautions around them. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly when touching, feeding, or playing beer pong with your hedgehog or bearded dragon. Be careful around them because anything they touch may be contaminated with germs like Salmonella. Plus, they may cheat in beer pong and probably shouldn’t be drinking beer.
Since both animals can leave such germs wherever they go, don’t let them roam freely in your living quarters either. This could allow them to touch things that may go into or touch your mouth such as utensils, plates, toothbrushes, pillow cases, or the gigantic tub of mac-and-cheese that you are about to consume. It’s better to have designated areas for them that are far from your kitchen, bathroom, and bathroom. When you clean any objects that they may have touched, do so outside the house so that you don’t contaminate anything else.
Treat your face like your toilet and keep hedgehogs and bearded dragons away from both. If you feel the need to kiss or snuggle with them, send them affectionate texts loaded with emojis instead. Or you can always formed a heart shape with your fingers and whisper, “you complete me,” from across the room. They may not hear exactly what you are saying but may appreciate the gesture.
If you are less than five years old or 65 years or older or have a weakened immune system, be extra cautious around hedgehogs or bearded dragons. All of these put you at greater risk of having a have more serious Salmonella infection. You probably don’t want to form a hedgehog or bearded dragon flash mob. In fact, consider keeping your distance in general from them. A Zoom call may be better, although they may seem like they are frequently on mute.
So, if a man, a hedgehog, and a bearded dragon walk into a bar, it’s better if the man takes proper precautions, refrains from head butting or sharing a beer, and washes his hands thoroughly frequently. And that’s no joke.
Originally published at forbes