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CDC issues salmonella warning about snuggling pet hedgehogs

The Centers for Disease Control has issued a warning against snuggling and kissing hedgehogs after an outbreak of salmonella has been linked to contact with the animals.
/ Source: TODAY

The latest salmonella outbreak in the wake of beef and egg recalls in recent months is related to ... hedgehogs?

Yes, apparently snuggling with your cute, cuddly pet hedgehog could end up making you sick.

An outbreak of salmonella across eight states has been linked to contact with hedgehogs. AP

The Centers for Disease Control issued a warning after 11 people across eight states were infected with a strain of salmonella starting in October. Ten of the people reported being in contact with a hedgehog.

"Don’t kiss or snuggle hedgehogs, because this can spread salmonella germs to your face and mouth and make you sick,'' the agency warned. "Don’t let hedgehogs roam freely in areas where food is prepared or stored, such as kitchens."

Hedgehogs have exploded in popularity as pets and become Instagram stars in recent years, but the CDC is warning owners to take precautions before they go giving little Sonic a big kiss and end up with diarrhea and a fever.

No deaths have been reported and one person has been hospitalized, the CDC noted. Salmonella infections have been reported in Missouri, Minnesota, Maine, Mississippi, Colorado, Wyoming, Texas and Nebraska.

Each year, salmonella causes about 1.2 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations and 450 deaths in the U.S., the CDC estimates. The main symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever, which usually appear 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to salmonella.

The spiky little mammals can appear healthy and clean but still carry salmonella in their droppings that can be spread to anything in the area where they live, including toys, bedding and their cages, the CDC warned.

The agency recommends thoroughly washing your hands after handling any hedgehogs as well as going outside the house to clean any toys or supplies near the hedgehog instead of doing it in the kitchen or anywhere food is prepared.

Families with children under five, adults over 65 or people with weakened immune systems are urged to find a different pet because of the risks of owning a hedgehog.