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Salmonella Dog Treats Lead to Outbreak in Humans

Posted in Our Blog,Outbreaks & Recalls,Salmonella on July 4, 2019

The CDC, public health and regulatory officials in several states and the FDA announced they are investigating a multi-state, multi-drug resistant outbreak in 13 states. 45 people have fallen ill as a result of the outbreak and 12 of them have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported yet. Infections have been sourced out to pig ear dog treats. Here’s what you need to know about the Salmonella Dog Treats Outbreak.

The Low Down

Here is a breakdown of cases on the basis of states:

Iowa (12), Michigan (7), New York (6), Illinois (3), Indiana (3), Kansas (3), Missouri (3), Massachusetts (2), Pennsylvania (2), California (1), North Dakota (1), South Carolina (1) and Wisconsin (1). 

Illnesses started on dates ranging from November 18, 2018 to June 13, 2019. The age of ill people ranged in between 1 year to 81 years, with a median age of 23. Females comprise 50% of the total ill people. Out of 39 people whose information is available, 12 (31%) have been hospitalized. More illnesses can be reported due to the time difference between when a person falls ill and when the illness is reported. This can take an average of 2-4 weeks. 


Epidemiologic evidence suggested that pig ear dog treats is the likely source of this outbreak. 38 people were interviewed about animal contact in the week before they noticed first signs of the infection. 34 (89%) of them reported contact with a dog before they fell ill. Out of 24 people with the available information, 17 (71%) reported they had contact with either pig ear dog treats or dogs who were given pig ear dog treats. 

These results are significantly higher than the results from a FoodNet population survey that estimates prevalence and severity of diarrheal illness in community, assess exposure factors, number of people who seek medical care and common symptoms linked with diarrhea. According to it, 61% of healthy people reported contact with dogs and 16% reported handling dog treats in the week before the interview. 

As a part of the investigation, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development collected pig ear dog treats from various retail locations where ill people reported buying them. After testing, the samples tested negative for outbreak Salmonella strain but tested positive for Salmonella Newport, Salmonella London, Salmonella Infantis and Salmonella Typhimurium. Investigation is ongoing to see whether any human illnesses are linked to those strains. 

As of now, the retailers have removed pig ears from their shelves. No common supplier has been named yet. 

Antibiotic resistance becomes a huge scare, yet again! 

According to CDC, whole-genome sequencing analysis of the Salmonella isolates showed that 30 out of the 45 outbreak victims had infection from antibiotic resistant Salmonella bacteria. The strains showed decreased susceptibility to ampicillin, ciprofloxacin, gentamicin, streptomycin, tetracycline, nalidixic acid, sulfisoxazole and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. 

These antibiotic-resistant infections can make the illnesses challenging to treat with commonly available antibiotics and might need a whole other set of antibiotics completely. 

What do you need to know right now?

Investigation is ongoing and illnesses can be added to the outbreak. No supplier has been named yet – so all pig ear treats pose a threat. Contaminated products can still be present in the market. It’s important that you either throw all pig ear treats in your home or take appropriate steps to prevent Salmonella. 

It is also good to remember that this is not the first time that pet food and treats have led to illnesses in people. It is always good to be mindful of what you feed your pet, and steer clear from raw pet foods.

Why Salmonella in pet food and treats is of concern?

Contamination in pet foods and treats pose a threat to both human and pet health. Pets can get Salmonella after eating the infected food. Once they get the bacteria, they can pass it on to humans without appearing ill. They shed it in their feces, which can then contaminate the surfaces it is in contact with. Pet foods or treats can also contaminate surfaces or your hands when there is a direct contact. Salmonella contaminates pet foods or treats when workplace sanitary conditions and food safety rules aren’t followed. It is important that pet owners are aware of the risk pig ear treats carries currently and choose accordingly to feed it or not. 

Here are some tips to keep yourself safe:

  • You should always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water as soon as you feed your dog or give him any other treats. 
  • Follow proper storage instructions for pet food. Store any pet food and treats away from where human food is stored or prepared. 
  • Use a separate clean scoop for your pet’s feeding bowl. Don’t directly use the feeding bowl to scoop food. 
  • Don’t let your pet lick any part of your body, especially your mouth, face or any open wounds after you’ve just fed him food or any treats. Wash any part of the body properly if your pet does lick it. 
  • If you are shopping for any dog treats or pet food and the package is open, wash your hands after touching it. 
  • Extra care should be maintained around young children. Since their immune system is still developing, they are at a very high risk of catching an infection and developing complications as a result of the illness as well. Children younger than 5 years of age shouldn’t be allowed to touch pet food or treats. They should be supervised to wash their hands if they do feed their pets. 
  • Dogs don’t always show signs of salmonella infections. But sometimes they do. If your dog is experiencing diarrhea that has blood or mucus, vomiting and has a fever, then do contact a veterinarian immediately. 

What is Salmonella, and What are its symptoms?

Salmonella is a bacterium that causes food poisoning in both humans and animals. The illness is serious in some individuals like young children, pregnant women, elders and those with compromised immune system. Symptoms of the illness include diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal cramps. Most people don’t require any treatment and recover on their own with proper hydration. Some needs to get hospitalized so as to recover properly. The bacterium is responsible for 1.2 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations and 450 deaths each year in the US. Do contact your healthcare provider if you experience any symptoms of Salmonella. 

The Lange Law Firm

Our mission is to help families who have been harmed by contaminated food or water.  When corporations cause Salmonella food poisoning outbreaks or Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks, we use the law to hold them accountable.  The Lange Law Firm, PLLC is the only law firm in the nation solely focused on representing families in food poisoning lawsuits and Legionnaires disease lawsuits.

If you or your child was infected with Salmonella after eating papayas in this Salmonella Papaya Outbreak and are interested in making a legal claim for compensation, we have a Salmonella lawyer ready to help you.  Call us for a free no obligation legal consultation at (833) 330-3663 or send us an e-mail here.

By: Pooja Sharma, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)