Put down those pig ears—again!

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How many times do we have to say it?

Possibly every time the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) update their investigation into an outbreak of multidrug-resistant Salmonella across multiple states.

The CDC and FDA first announced the investigation early last month, singling out pig ear dog treats as the common source of contact for the infection.

Latest information

Yesterday, the CDC and FDA updated their website postings: Based on new information gathered from cases and the traceback data, the agencies are currently advising that consumers avoid buying or feeding any pig ear pet treats at this time. Additionally, the CDC and FDA recommend that retailers (including online retailers) stop selling all pig ear pet treats.

  • People can get sick after handling the treats or caring for dogs who ate the treats. Dogs might get sick after eating them.Since the last update on July 17, 2019, a total of 127 cases of people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella have been reported in 33 states
  • 26 people have been hospitalized. 24 of the cases involve children younger than five years of age
  • To date, no deaths have been reported

The source: unknown

Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback evidence indicate that contact with pig ear dog treats from many different suppliers is the likely source of this outbreak. State health and regulatory officials in several states and the FDA have tested pig ear dog treats at various suppliers and identified many different strains of Salmonella.

Although no single supplier, distributor, or common brand of pig ear treats has been identified that could account for all the illnesses, several companies have voluntarily recalled pig ear products because they might be contaminated with Salmonella:

This particular serotype, Salmonella 4,5,12:i:- may also be more difficult to treat, as it is proving resistant to a range of antibiotics, including ampicillin, ciprofloxacin, gentamicin, nalidixic acid, streptomycin, sulfisoxazole, tetracycline, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole.

By CDC estimates, Salmonella causes about 1.2 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations, and 450 deaths in the United States every year. Food is the source for about 1 million of these illnesses.

Advice to veterinarians

  • Advise your clients not to feed any pig ear treats to their dogs
  • If clients do have pig ears in their homes, recommend that they throw them away in a secure container that’s inaccessible to pets

The investigation is ongoing. Both agencies will provide updates when additional information becomes available.

Photo credit: © iStock/chengyuzheng