Bad news for some dog owners. Apparently there has been an outbreak of salmonella across some of the United States. The apparent cause? Pig ear dog treats. According to CNN, there have been 45 cases of illness "across California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wisconsin". Twelve of those cases have resulted in the infected person being hospitalized from their symptoms.
An investigation from the Center for Disease Control showed that almost all of those reported cases were in contact with a dog, and specifically with pig ear dog treats prior to falling ill. CNN reported "In CDC interviews with 38 of those infected, 34 said they had been in contact with a dog before getting sick. Separately, 17 people of 24 interviewed reported contact with pig ear dog treats or dogs fed those treats." It seems that these treats might end up being the culprit for this outbreak of illness.
As a part of the investigation, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development tested the pig ears for salmonella. They aren't yet sure if the traces they found are the same as what caused the outbreak. More investigation will be required before they can say for sure what exactly caused this rash of cases.
A Salmonella infection is caused by bacteria, and can lead to intestinal upset including fever, nausea, diarrhea and cramping. It is typically a foodborne illness and usually runs it's course within a week. Salmonella poisoning, also known as Salmonellosis, can be incredibly incomfortable for the person who has it.
The CDC recommends that human wash their hands when they come into contact with dog food and treats. Additionally, they have warned people to not allow their dogs to lick their mouths. This may help prevent infections such as this one, that seem to be linked to something the dog was in contact with, rather than a case of traditional food poisoning where it was something a human directly ate.
The CDC and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) are still investigating this particular outbreak in hopes of finding out the cause or source of this outbreak.