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By Jane Weaver

Pig ear dog treats are linked to at least 45 cases of salmonella infection in people, according to the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Twelve people have been hospitalized.

The FDA said Wednesday it is investigating a link between the dog treats and salmonella infection in at least 13 states. As part of the investigation, pig ear treat samples collected from bulk bins in stores by Michigan health officials tested positive for several strains of salmonella, although not the specific strain connected to the outbreak. The CDC and FDA are working with state health officials to determine if any of the strains found in the pig ear treats are connected to human or animal illnesses.

However, according to the CDC, evidence suggests that contact with pig ear dog treats is the source of the outbreak. In interviews, 34 out of 38 people reported contact with a dog before getting sick; 17 out of 24 people reported contact with pig ear dog treats or with dogs who were fed pig ear dog treats.

A common supplier of the dog treats has not been identified.

The CDC suggested ways to avoid salmonella infection from dog treats:

  • Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after handling pet food or treats, including pig ears.
  • Don’t let your pet lick your mouth or face after it eats pet food or treats.
  • Always wash hands thoroughly after touching unpackaged pet treats, such as food or treats in bulk bins.
  • Children younger than 5 years old should not touch or eat pet food or treats.

Symptoms of salmonella poisoning include diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever. Dogs with salmonella infection don't always look sick, but may seem more tired than usual, and may have a fever or vomit, according to the CDC.