FDA is coordinating with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state agencies to investigate 45 human cases of Salmonella enterica serotype 4,5,12:i across multiple states, which may be linked to exposure to pig ear pet treats.
In the course of the investigation, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development visited retail locations where ill people reported purchasing pig ear treats and collected samples. Testing revealed the samples were negative for the specific outbreak strain, but tested positive for Salmonella London, Salmonella Typhimurium, Salmonella Newport and Salmonella Infantis. FDA is working to identify the source of the pig ear treats, how they became contaminated, and where they were distributed.
Pet treats contaminated with Salmonella are of particular public health importance because they can affect both human and animal health. Pets can get sick from Salmonella and may also be carriers of the bacteria and pass it onto their human companions without appearing to be ill. The FDA is aware of cases in which humans and/or animals have gotten sick from exposure to contaminated pet foods and treats.
Salmonella can cause illness and death in humans and animals, especially those who are very young, very old, or have weak immune systems. People infected with Salmonella can develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. In some people, the diarrhea may be so severe they need to be hospitalized and infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream and then to other body sites unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics. Consult your health care provider if you have symptoms of Salmonella infection.
Pets do not always display symptoms when infected with Salmonella, but signs can include vomiting, diarrhea which may be bloody, fever, loss of appetite and/or decreased activity level. If your pet has these symptoms, consult a veterinarian promptly. You should also be aware that infected pets can shed the bacteria in their feces and saliva without showing signs of being sick.
FDA has issued this alert so consumers can choose whether to remove pig ear treats from their homes or take steps to potentially prevent Salmonella infection. In general, if you choose to feed pig ears, practice good hygiene by monitoring your pets while they have the treat, picking up the treat when they are done with it, keeping the treats away from small children, cleaning the areas that came into contact with the treats, washing your hands after handling the treats, and not allowing your pets to lick you, your family members, or surfaces in your home.
FDA encourages consumers to report complaints about pet food products electronically through the Safety Reporting Portal. This information helps FDA further protect human and animal health.
Read the full FDA Alert HERE.