Pet Food Salmonella Sickens People

CDC Probing Multi-State Human Outbreak of Salmonella Schwarzengrund Linked to Dry Pet Food

From the WebMD Archives

Aug. 29, 2007 -- The CDC is investigating a salmonella outbreak that has sickened at least 66 people in 18 states and appears to be linked to dry pet food.

"People who think they might have become ill after contact with dry pet food or with an animal that has eaten dry pet food should consult their health care providers," states the CDC.

The CDC and FDA warn people to take the following steps to limit their risk of salmonella infection from pets or pet food:

  • Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap right after handling dry pet foods and treats.
  • Wash hands before preparing food and before eating.
  • Keep infants away from pet feeding areas. Don't allow infants to touch or eat dog food.
  • Wash pet food bowls, dishes, and scooping utensils with soap and hot water after each use.
  • Don't use the pet's feeding bowl as a scooping utensil. Instead, scoop out pet food with clean scoop or spoon dedicated for that purpose.
  • Dispose of old or spoiled pet food products in a safe manner, such as in a securely tied plastic bag in a covered trash receptacle.
  • Buy products in good condition, without dents, tears, or other signs of package damage.
  • Promptly refrigerate or discard any unused, leftover wet pet food. Refrigerators should be set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Store dry products in a cool, dry place at less than 80º Fahrenheit.
  • If possible, store dry pet food in its original bag, with the top of the bag folded closed, inside a clean plastic container with a lid. Don’t use that container for other purposes.
  • Keep pets away from food storage and preparation areas.
  • Keep pets away from garbage and household trash.

Salmonella Outbreak: Infants at Risk

Salmonella is a bacterial illness that causes diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. The ongoing human outbreak involves a strain of salmonella called Salmonella Schwarzengrund.

Most people recover from salmonella infection in four to seven days without treatment. But the young, elderly, and people with weak immune systems are more vulnerable.

Of patients with detailed information, almost a third developed bloody diarrhea, a quarter were hospitalized, and nearly 40% were babies no more than 1 year old, according to the CDC.

The CDC is investigating why human illness, especially among infants, is associated with dry pet food. Factors under investigation include handling and storage of dry pet food, hand-washing practices, exposure of children to dry pet food, and location in the home where pets are fed.


Dry Pet Food Link

As of Aug. 28, the CDC had gotten reports of people sickened by Salmonella Schwarzengrund in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Massachusetts, Maine, North Dakota, Virginia, Minnesota, Alabama, California, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.

"These human illnesses have been linked with dry pet food produced by Mars Petcare U.S. at a single manufacturing facility in Pennsylvania," states the CDC's web site.

The FDA tested unopened bags of finished dog food at Mars Petcare's Pennsylvania facility. Two samples tested positive for the outbreak strain of Salmonella Schwarzengrund.

On Aug. 25, the FDA announced that Mars Petcare is voluntarily recalling select bags of its Red Flannel Large Breed Adult Formula dry dog food and Krasdale Gravy dry dog food.

But so far, none of the human cases have been linked to those recalled products.

No pets have gotten sick from the Salmonella Schwarzengrund outbreak that's affecting people.

But the human outbreak strain of Salmonella Schwarzengrund was found in fecal samples of two dogs that ate dry pet food in the homes of two people sickened by Salmonella Schwarzengrund, says the CDC.

Mars Petcare Recall

Here are the details on Mars Petcare's dry dog food recall:

Product: Krasdale Gravy dry dog food
Size: 5-pound bag
UPC Code: 7513062596
Best by Date: July 16, 2008 & July 17, 2008
Best by Date Location: Back of bag
Distribution: Stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania

Product: Red Flannel Large Breed Adult Formula dry dog food
Size: 50-pound bag
UPC Code: 4286900062
Best by Date: July 12, 2008
Best by Date Location: Back of bag
Distribution: Stores in Reedsland and Richlandtown, Pa.

For more information on the recall, call Mars Petcare U.S. at (866) 298-8332.

WebMD Health News Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on August 29, 2007


SOURCES: CDC: "Salmonella Schwarzengrund Outbreak Investigation, August 2007." News release, FDA. FDA: "Safe Handling Tips for Pet Foods and Treats." News releases, Mars Petcare U.S.

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