We have read a lot about salmonella lately. Some fast food restaurants have recently been shut down because of it.

Those cases have made a lot of headlines. But it turns out that our pets might represent another salmonella threat, and in this article I want to make sure you understand how this in the home risk can be abated.

Pet treats that come from animal bi-products have reportedly made numerous people ill here and in Canada. According to the CDC in Washington there have been several salmonella outbreaks in the past few years attributable to these pet treats.

The outbreaks stem from either salmon or beef treats as well as pig ears given to dogs as treats. People who buy these "animal derived pet treats" are being warned by the CDC to wash their hands carefully after coming into contact with them.

A June 2006 CDC report indicates that the last outbreak was identified in 2004 and 2005. There were nine laboratory confirmed cases associated with that outbreak. Beef or salmon pet treats, processed or distributed in the US and Canada, seem to have caused the outbreak.

Symptoms include diarrhea, and sometimes fevers and vomiting. In rear cases, affected persons can become very ill, requiring hospitalization as a result of salmonella exposure. Investigations reveal that animal derived pet treats are sometimes not processed in a manner that kills salmonella. The CDC has recommended that processes be introduced into the manufacturing protocol that will kill this bacteria.

Infections from this source were also identified in 1999 and 2002 outbreaks. And the CDC states that salmonella illness is generally not laboratory confirmed, which means that the actual number of sick people may be much higher than the few identified following laboratory analysis.

What should you do? First, it is helpful to be aware that animal derived treats have this risk associated with them.

If you are going to buy animal derived pet treats, proper handwashing after handling these treats is very important.

The young, the old, and those with compromised immune systems must particularly be protected as they are at most risk if they become infected.

And spread the word. I have found that a lot of people are not aware of these outbreaks or of the risks associated with handling these materials.

If you do become ill, you and your pet should receive appropriate medical care as soon as possible.

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