According to US health officials, eight more cases of people infected with salmonella have been traced to dry dog food.
As of October 31, 79 cases of infection from a specific strain of salmonella, salmonella Schwarzengrund, had been reported across 21 states, with most of the cases involving children 2 or younger.
According to epidemiologist Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has linked the outbreak of this very specific strain of bacteria to pet food produced at a single Mars Petcare U.S. plant in Everson, PA. In September, the plant recalled over 23,000 tons of dry dog and cat food sold under 105 brand names for being tainted with salmonella, and on October 1, it permanently closed.
Despite the plant’s closing, Barton Behravesh says, the threat salmonella infection still exists because “since dry pet food has a one-year shelf life, it is possible that contaminated products…could still be in the homes of ill persons and could lead to additional illness.”
Pet owners should check their dry pet food to see if it was manufactured by Mars Petcare U.S. If so, they should check the company’s website to see if it was included in the September recall.
Young children are particularly vulnerable to salmonella because they’re smaller, and thus more likely to get sick from small doses. According to the CDC, most infections were caused by simply feeding a pet.
So far, no animals have been reported infected by the outbreak.
Some very simple steps can be taken to protect yourself and your family against pet food borne salmonella. These include regularly washing your pet feeding bowls to prevent the growth of bacteria; thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or more after handling dry pet food, including treats; and being careful to keep dry pet food from touching your food preparation surfaces.