An outbreak of Salmonella has been linked to contaminated dry dog food for the first time ever, said officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
CDC officials said dry dog food may be an under-recognized source of illness in humans, and they are unsure how the bacteria got into the dog food. Usually, Salmonella comes from undercooked meats and eggs.
“They are a number of possible ways that that could happen,” said Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh, a CDC epidemiologist, who co-authored a report on the finding. “That’s something we are still trying to figure out.”
Humans became infected with Salmonella in 2006 and 2007 from dry dog food produced by Mars Petcare in Pennsylvania. Dogs were not affected, according to the May 16 issue of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, but a number of those affected were infants.
“Salmonella is a rampant problem in the U.S. and it’s an underappreciated problem,” said Fox News contributor, Dr. Marc Siegel. “It’s probably the most common bacteria found in food because of the way chicken is handled today and it’s also found in some produce.”
Siegel said the strain of salmonella found in the dry dog found, S. Schwarzengrund, is of particular concern because the CDC has found it to be resistant to some antibiotics including Cipro.
“I would urge caution over this strain because, a.) It’s already shown that it can be spread from animals to humans, and b.) Because the CDC has found it to have multiple drug resistance, including to Cipro, which is a mainstay of salmonella treatment” he said.
Siegel said dog owners should always wash their hands after handling dog food. He added that the CDC’s finding should not cause panic among dog owners.
“Don’t assume your dog food is infected,” he said. “I would be very cautious when handling dog food, but you don’t have to wear a gown and a mask. We don’t yet know the extent of the contamination and just because some dog food has salmonella doesn’t mean all dog food has it. In fact, the vast majority of dog food does not have it.”
The CDC also warned parents to keep infants and other young children away from pet food because they may play with it or put it in their mouths.