Pig ear pet treats blamed for human Salmonella outbreak


Pig ear pet treats have been linked to an outbreak of multidrug-resistant Salmonella infections in 13 states, according to an investigation report released today by CDC.

Forty-five individuals in California (1), Illinois (3), Indiana (3), Iowa (12), Kansas (3), Massachusetts (2), Michigan (7), Missouri (3), New York (6), North Dakota (1), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (1) and Wisconsin (1) have been infected with the outbreak strain, identified as Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:-.

Twelve outbreak victims were hospitalized.

According to CDC, epidemiological evidence points to pig ear pet treats as a likely source of the illnesses.

Of the outbreak victims interviewed, 89% reported contact with a dog before getting sick and 71% reported contact with pig ear dog treats or with dogs who were fed pig ear dog treats.

In comparison, only 61% of healthy individuals reported contact with a dog, and only 16% reported having handled dog treats such as pig ears in the week before the interview.

Pig ear pet treats obtained from bulk bins at two Michigan retailers have tested positive for a number of different Salmonella strains, according to a report from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).

According to FDA, MDARD found four different strains – Salmonella London, Salmonella Typhimurium, Salmonella Newport, and Salmonella Infantis – in the pig ear samples.

FDA is working with CDC and state health partners to determine whether any human or animal cases of Salmonella illness may be linked to the strains found in the treats tested by MDARD.

Other brands of individually wrapped or bagged pig ears sold at multiple retail locations in the state tested negative for Salmonella.

Pet Supplies Plus (Livonia, MI) issued a voluntary recall after learning that MDARD found Salmonella in “…aging bulk pig ear product…” in one of the company’s stores.

The contaminated bulk pig ears were stocked in open bins in Pet Supplies Plus stores in AL, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, MA, MD, MI, MN, MO, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, WI and WV. Prepackaged pig ears are unaffected by the recall.

The company has removed bulk pig ear treats from all of its stores and has stopped shipping these treats from its distribution center.

FDA is working to identify the source of the pig ear treats, how they became contaminated, and where they were distributed.

What consumers need to know

Salmonella can cause illness in both humans and animals. People infected with Salmonella can develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. Most individuals recover without treatment. However, in some cases, the diarrhea may be so severe that hospitalization is needed.

In severe cases, without antibiotic treatment the infection may spread from the intestines into the blood stream and from there to other parts of the body.

Pets do not always display symptoms when infected with Salmonella, but signs can include vomiting, diarrhea (which may be bloody), fever, loss of appetite and/or decreased activity level. Infected pets can shed the bacteria in their feces and saliva without showing signs of being sick.

If you or a household member is suffering from symptoms of Salmonella, consult a healthcare provider.

If you believe your pet may be infected with Salmonella, consult your veterinarian.

How to alert FDA to a problem

Veterinarians who wish to have pets tested for Salmonella may do so through the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network (Vet-LIRN Network) if the pet is from a household with a person infected with Salmonella.

FDA encourages consumers to report complaints about pet food products electronically through the Safety Reporting Portal. This information helps FDA further protect human and animal health.

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