Small pets pose new health risk - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Small pets pose new health risk

Albany--Pets such as hamsters, rats, and mice, have sickened more than two dozen people in at least ten states, including Georgia. It is the first known outbreak of Salmonella tied to such pets and reveals a previously unknown health risk.

It all began with an unusual infection in a five-year-old boy in Minnesota, who got sick after playing with a pet mouse that later died. Pet shop workers say keeping yourself and your pets clean can help avoid the spread of illness.

"Always be around when the kids are playing with the animals, sanitize their hands before and after playing with them. Make sure they are put back safely so they can't get out." said pet shop worker Derrick Winbush. 

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control say gerbils, guinea pigs, ferrets and rabbits could also carry the disease. Parents and children should remember to wash their hands thoroughly after contact with any pet, even the family dog.

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