Multistate Salmonella Outbreak from Dry Dog Food

Yesterday, the FDA and CDC announced they are investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella infantis infection associated with handling dry dog food. To date, 14 people in 9 states (AL, CT, MI, MO, NC, NJ, OH, PA and VA) have been infected. Five people have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported. Although multiple brands of dog food have been involved, they all originated from the same Diamond Pet Food manufacturing plant in Gaston, SC (this is the same plant implicated in the larger-scale recalls in 2005 due to aflatoxin contamination).

What should pet owners do? If you feed any Diamond Pet Food products, check the recall list and make sure you don’t have any of the recalled food in your house. If you do, contact Diamond toll-free at 800-442-0402.

There was a good article by Kukanich et al. published in the June 1, 2011 issue of JAVMA that provided an overview of Salmonella contamination of pet foods and treats. It also provided good recommendations to prevent infection, such as avoiding raw food diets; purchasing individually packaged treats (as opposed to those in bulk bins); making sure the package is intact when you purchase the food or treat; storing all food and treats according to label directions; discouraging children, elderly people, or immunosuppressed people from handling pet food or treats; washing your hands with soap and water before and after handling pet food or treats; routine washing of pet food and water bowls, and in an area separate from where you wash dishes used for human food; avoiding feeding pets in the kitchen. The last one should go without saying, really: discourage people from consuming pet food or treats.

Pets infected with Salmonella may be lethargic and have diarrhea (which may be bloody), fever, vomiting, decreased appetite, and signs of abdominal pain (tense abdomen, painful reaction to petting or pressure in the area). A pet can be infected with Salmonella and not appear sick, but can infect you or your family (in this case, the animal is called a “carrier”). If you suspect your pet is ill, contact your veterinarian without delay.

People infected with Salmonella may show symptoms similar to the signs shown by infected pets, and can also be carriers. If you think you are ill, consult your physician. The young, old, and immunocompromised – regardless of whether they’re pets or people – are at higher risk of more severe illness if infected.

If your pet becomes ill from pet food or treats, you should file a report with to the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator in their state, or electronically through the Safety Reporting Portal.

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