Salmonella is a bacteria we associate with food poisoning from consumption of undercooked chicken or poorly refrigerated picnic food. It is also a zoonotic disease, meaning it is a disease that affects both animals and humans.
You may have heard something about Salmonella in the news recently. Late in May, Salmonella caused the nationwide recall of alfalfa sprouts which made people sick in 10 different states. In the last three weeks there have been three voluntary dog and cat food recalls because of potential Salmonella contamination. Salmonella enters the pet food chain when it contaminates meat processing plants, eggs and, in one recent pet food recall, a vitamin supplement.
Salmonella infection in dogs and cats can be asymptomatic, cause a mild gastrointestinal illness or be severe and life threatening. In severe cases, your pet will stop eating, develop a fever, vomiting or bloody diarrhea. Your veterinarian may find an elevated white blood cell count and will do a test on the feces to determine if Salmonella organisms are present.
The most recent cat food recalled for potential Salmonella contamination was a raw food diet. Transmission of microorganisms is one significant downside to feeding a raw food diet. Some reports indicate up to 20% of raw food diets are contaminated with Salmonella. For this reason, many veterinarians are nervous about the health of their patients fed a raw food diet.
In addition to threatening the health of pets, Salmonella contaminated pet food poses risk to the human family members, especially small children and immunocompromised adults. Handling Salmonella contaminated pet food without proper hand washing could result in a human becoming infected with Salmonella. For tips on safe handling of pet food, read our previous blog on pet food recalls.
The Animal Medical Center
For 100 years, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.