Salmonella Tainted Dog Food Causing Illness in Humans

Dry dog food contaminated with salmonella has been sickening human beings. The pheonomenon, which began in 2006, has continued as 8 more people have been identified with sickness related to salmonella linked to the dry dog food. As of the end of October, 79 cases have been reported in 21 states of the country. Most of the cases involve very young children, typically 2 years of age or younger.
“We have been following an outbreak of illness due to a specific strain of salmonella. And in 2007, we linked those human illnesses with contaminated pet food produced at one Pennsylvania pet food plant,” said report co-author Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh, a CDC epidemiologist. “In 2008, we have identified eight additional cases.”
The salmonella contamination has been linked with a specific brand of dog food coming from a Mars Petcare U.S. plant in Everson, Pa. The plant has since been closed and the company has recalled more than 23,000 tons of dry dog food sold under over 100 different brand names.
“The issue is that since dry pet food has a one-year shelf life, it is possible that contaminated products from even our 2007 recall could still be in the homes of ill persons and could lead to additional illness,” said Barton Behravesh, a CDC epidemiologist.
According to the CDC, the best way to minimize the risk of infection is to take the following steps:
1)refrain from feeding pets in the kitchen
2)thoroughly clean pet feeding bowls
3)wash your hands after handling pet foods
4)avoid any cross-contamination of the pet foods with human food or areas in which human food is prepared or consumed.
According to the CDC, most infected people develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps within 12 to 72 hours. The illness typically lasts four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment. But, for some, the diarrhea may be so severe that they need to be hospitalized. In these patients, the infection can spread from the intestines to the bloodstream, and then to other parts of the body, leading to death unless antibiotics are administered promptly. The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness.