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Salmonella in Dog Food Infects Humans


Remember that giant Diamond Pet foods recall from earlier in the year? It stretched from December through May, and covered a staggering variety of pet foods. It wasn’t just that hundreds of specific bags of pet food were affected, but also that so many different brands of kibble were all infected.

I thought the story was finally over in May when it seemed like we’d heard the last of the recalls. I’m not writing today to inform you that another recall has been announced, but to update the story. At the time although some dogs were reported as coming down with Salmonella as a result of the tainted foods, no humans had yet gotten sick.

That’s what I have to update today: according to NBC News, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that a total of 49 people (47 in the United States and 2 in Canada) became sickened by Salmonella recently. However, only 11 of those cases could be definitively linked to the Diamond Pet Foods contamination.

The good news is that no one has died, and the CDC reports that the outbreak appears to be over. The CDC found people by taking samples from the infected kibble and then searching for reported illnesses in people whose test results matched up with the specific bacteria they had.

Salmonella can be dormant in pets without affecting them, but then the dogs can transfer the bacteria to humans. The quickest way to actually get it, however, is if you handle the food directly. But you can also get it from your pet, particularly if you get a sloppy kiss from your dog.

A father in New Jersey claimed that his 8-week-old baby, who needed to be hospitalized due to a Salmonella infection (but has recovered, thank goodness), got it from a Diamond Pet Foods kibble brand. He says he doesn’t know how his child became infected. That just shows how easy it is to pick up the disease from the infected food. His baby might not have handled any dog food, but if the dog came into contact with the baby it could have been transferred that way.

To protect yourself from Salmonella infection the best thing to do is wash your hands well after you come into contact with dog food. If you’re being very safe, do so after you come into direct physical contact with your pets as well.

Am I going to start washing my hands after petting my dog (even though her brand of food has not, as of yet, and hopefully never will be, affected)? No. Maybe if I became infected with Salmonella I would. The problem with such recalls is that if I owned a contaminated product, it might already be too late. That’s why I found the Diamond Pet Foods Recall so upsetting: it was widespread and it wasn’t the first time.

The best thing to do is stay on top of the news about any recalls. Google News has a search feature; you can go to news.google.com and type in “pet food recall” (or any type of recall) and find all the recent updates if you’re particularly concerned. Otherwise, wash your hands, and stay safe. If you’re not sure if you have an affected brand (though you probably don’t, if you bought your food recently) check the Diamond Pet Foods Recall website here.

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*(This image by Nutloaf is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.)