Stop Letting Your Babies Play With Dog Food

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A salmonella outbreak in humans has been traced back to a very-not-human source: dog food. Federal health officials determined that at least seven people, mostly infants, have gotten sick from certain brands of dry dog food. Mid America Pet Food, the company implicated in the outbreak, recalled all of its dog and cat food brands with best-by dates prior to Oct. 31, 2024.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration jointly announced an investigation into the outbreak Thursday. The first inklings of the problem emerged in early September when the FDA reported that the South Carolina Department of Agriculture detected salmonella in one of the company’s dry dog food brands as part of a random sample test. The Texas-based company soon issued a voluntary recall of a specific lot of that brand and issued a second recall in late October after more lots were found contaminated with the bacteria at their production facility.

The culprit is a subtype of the bacteria called Salmonella Kiambu. Typically, salmonella infections cause diarrhea (sometimes bloody), fever, and stomach cramps that last for up to a week. As of Nov. 9, seven cases of the outbreak have been documented, with the earliest dating back to January 2023. One person was hospitalized as a result, but no deaths have been recorded. Because most cases of salmonella resolve on their own without the need for medical treatment, though, it’s likely that the outbreak is much larger than reported.

According to the CDC, people have gotten sick from either touching the dog food, touching food bowls that contained it, or touching the poop or saliva of dogs that were fed the dog food. All but one of the reported cases involved children under the age of one. Young children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems are more likely to experience severe symptoms from salmonella and other foodborne infections. Pets often don’t become sick from salmonella, though they can still spread it to humans and can become sick if they’re in worse health already.

Mid America Pet Food has now expanded its recall to cover all dog and cat brands with best-by dates before Oct. 31, 2024. These products include various-sized bags and flavors of Victor Super Premium Dog Food, Wayne Feeds Cat Food, and Eagle Mountain Pet Food Pro Balance for dogs. A full list of the affected products can be found in the FDA’s announcement.

The CDC is also recommending that people generally take steps to handle their pet’s food safely. People should regularly clean pet food and water bowls, food scoops, treat toys, feeding mats, and placemats. They should also wash their hands with soap and water before and after handling pet food, and avoid their pet licking them in the face and mouth right after a meal. Pet owners should also make sure their fur babies aren’t licking their open wounds. As a general rule, people shouldn’t feed their pets raw pet food or treats either, since these products are more likely to contain germs that can make pets and their owners sick.

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