Forty-five cases have been documented in a multidrug-resistant Salmonella outbreak with a suspected link to contact with pig ear dog treats.
Dogs may be considered man’s best friend, but federal health officials are warning pet owners that contact with a popular dog treat could be making humans sick.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced the investigation of a multistate outbreak of multidrug-resistant Salmonella I 4,,12:i:- infections linked to contact with pig ear dog treats.
As of July 2, 2019, there have been 45 outbreak cases documented across 13 states. Isolates from 30 of the ill individuals underwent whole genome sequencing and predicted antibiotic resistance or decreased susceptibility to ampicillin, ciprofloxacin, gentamicin, nalidixic acid, streptomycin, sulfisoxazole, tetracycline, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. Based on these results, these infections may be difficult to treat with first-line antibiotics and may require an alternative antibiotic choice.
Onset of illness dates range from November 18, 2018, to June 13, 2019. The affected individuals range in age from less than 1 year to 81 years, with a mean age of 23 years. Of the 39 individuals for whom information is available, 12 (31%) have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported at his time.
As part of the epidemiological investigation, health officials conducted interviews about consumption and exposures in the week prior to onset of illness. In total, 38 individuals were interviewed and 34 of them reported having contact with a dog.
Additionally, 24 individuals were asked about exposure to pig ear dog treats or dogs who were fed the particular treat and 17 (71%) confirmed they had such contact in the week prior to illness.
Health officials from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development collected samples of pig ear dog treats from retail locations where ill individuals reported buying the dog treat. The officials sampled the products for Salmonella and, although they did not identify the outbreak strain, other strains of Salmonella were identified in the samples.
Although the retail locations where sampling occurred have ceased selling pig ears, a common supplier of the treats has not been identified at this time.
In order to prevent illness, the CDC advises practicing proper handwashing after handling all pet food or treats. Pet food should also be stored and prepared separately from human food.
Health officials also warn that some dogs who have Salmonella infection but may not look sick. As such, the CDC advises that pet owners should not allow their pets to lick their mouth or face following consumption of pet food or treats or allow dogs to lick open wounds or areas with broken skin.
This is an ongoing investigation and the CDC will provide updates as they become available.