The Public Health Agency of Canada is investigating nearly 100 cases of Salmonella in six provinces believed to be related to snakes and rodents.
“Many of the individuals who became sick report having direct or indirect contact with snakes, pet rats and feeder rodents (used as reptile food) before their illnesses occurred,” the release noted. The release instructs Canadians to practice good hygiene and safe handling of snakes, rodents, their food and their environments. It notes that reptiles and rodents can carry Salmonella while still appearing healthy. Children, elderly, pregnant and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk.
Six of the salmonella victims required hospitalization, but no deaths have resulted.
Apart from the immediate salmonella warning, the agency included a more general warning about how to reduce illness from contact with reptiles, rodents and their environments. This includes immediate hand washing after all contact, feedings or even being in the same area, regular cleaning with soapy water and sanitizers of any surfaces, and not letting children put reptiles and rodents near their food or drinks.
There are risks to more traditional pet foods as well, particularly with the recent trend towards feeding raw foods. Dogs are not particularly discretionary eaters, but raw food adds some risks.
As some recently published examples have highlighted Canadian pet foods are not regulated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Safety and hygiene of the nearly $1 billion industry are left to the manufacturers.