Health & Medicine

Salmonella traced to pig-ear pet treats triggers outbreak in humans, FDA says

What is salmonella and how do you keep from getting it?

Salmonella causes about 1.2 million illnesses and 450 deaths in the U.S. every year, according to the CDC. The bacteria is typically transmitted through contaminated food, but some simple preventative measures can keep you from getting sick.
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Salmonella causes about 1.2 million illnesses and 450 deaths in the U.S. every year, according to the CDC. The bacteria is typically transmitted through contaminated food, but some simple preventative measures can keep you from getting sick.

Federal food and drug officials are telling pet owners and retailers to get rid of pig ear pet treats after a salmonella outbreak tied to the treats sickened nearly 130 people in 33 states, including California.

One person in California has been reported infected with the salmonella strain tied to the treats, California Department of Public Health officials confirmed Thursday. Officials would not disclose where the person lives, citing patient privacy. In all, 127 people in 33 states have been infected with the strain, FDA officials announced.

No state advisories are planned, officials said.

But a Northern California pet retailer is heeding the call. Oakland-based Pet Food Express announced Wednesday that it was pulling the ear treats off shelves at its 65 locations including its Loehmann’s Plaza location at 2531 Fair Oaks Blvd. in the Sacramento area.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials sounded the alarm Wednesday. The agency is investigating the cases with the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta and states’ officials, the FDA said in a statement Wednesday.

An FDA spokeswoman was not available Wednesday, but officials in a statement said an undetermined number originated from Argentina and Brazil.

FDA officials say people who have the pig ear treats should dispose of them in a secure container away from animals and wildlife. Wash your hands thoroughly and disinfect any potentially contaminated surfaces.

Salmonella can affect humans and animals. People with symptoms of salmonella infection should consult their health care providers. Symptoms include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps Consult a veterinarian if your pet has symptoms of salmonella infection.

In multistate investigations, state Department of Public Health officials work together with the CDC to identify patients infected with an outbreak strain, officials said Thursday.

State and federal epidemiologists review patient exposure histories and information from states hit by the outbreak to identify a common source of illness.

Meantime, state health specialists work with FDA supplying information on exposed patients to help trace back food or products suspected to be contaminated.

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Darrell Smith covers courts and California news for The Sacramento Bee. He joined The Bee in 2006 and previously worked at newspapers in Palm Springs, Colorado Springs, Colo., and Marysville. A Sacramento Valley native, Smith was born and raised at Beale Air Force Base, near Marysville.
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