SPOKANE, Wash. -- One man died from a national salmonella outbreak in Spokane. Health experts with the Spokane Regional Health District made the announcement on Thursday. Doctors said the victim likely contracted salmonella from a hedgehog. The man lived in Spokane and was in his 90s.
Seven people have recently become sick with salmonella infections across Washington. SRHD employees linked all of those cases to contact with hedgehogs.
They said the death in Spokane is the first of its kind in the nation this year. The hedgehog was purchased in Spokane County.
"Unfortunately, many kinds of animals can shed Salmonella bacteria. This is an important opportunity to talk about ways to prevent infection when handling and caring for any animal,” said Dr. Joel McCullough.
Tests have shown that hedgehogs infected 20 people in seven states with salmonella.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are tracking the cases. CDC workers found that the hedgehogs in question were purchased from various breeders in several states. They believe most of those breeders were USDA-APHIS licensed.
Hedgehogs are one of several animals that can carry Salmonella and other diseases according to doctors. Hedgehogs can shed bacteria that can contaminate cages, toys, bedding or household surfaces. SRHD warns that people can be infected by touching objects contaminated by infected hedgehogs.