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Dr. Kim Mulvihill reporting There's a new warning about pocket pets. Thirty people in at least ten states are infected with a dangerous super-germ, thanks to handling hamsters, mice, and other furry animals.
There has been an outbreak of a drug resistant strain of salmonella among owners of pocket pets. This is a previously unknown health risk - and two small children have already died.
Pocket pets are tiny furry animals - like hamsters, mice, gerbils, rats, and bunnies, as well as other rodents that many families bring into their homes.
Salmonella infections are common in reptiles, but this is the first known outbreak tied to pocket pets. The germ that is being spread around is resistant to five drugs spanning several classes of antibiotics.
So far, no cases have been reported in Utah. But this goes to show you, that no pet is perfectly safe.
If your child has a hamster - what do you do, get rid of it?
Absolutely not - but here are some tips to prevent getting salmonella from your pocket pet.
Wash your hands with soap and water after handling your pet, their cages and bedding. After cleaning up their droppings, do the same - wash your hands thoroughly. Young children - especially those under five - need to be supervised and should get in the habit of immediately washing their hands after handling their pet.
Do not eat or smoke while handling your pets
Don't handle them when you prepare food.
Don't kiss your pet or hold it close to your mouth. One of the young boys who died had gotten sick after kissing his pet mouse.
To pick out a healthy pet, make sure they're lively and alert with glossy coats. Their breathing should be normal, and there should be no discharge from their eyes or nose.
And if another animal looks sick in the same cage, don't choose any other animal in the cage - even if it looks lively - it may have been exposed to an infection.