Health officials link outbreak of Salmonella infection to dry dog food

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed a strong link of Salmonella infection to dry dog food.

The first outbreaks of Salmonella infection were registered in 2006 and 2007. Health officials reported that about 70 people, mostly in the Northeast, were infected by dog food produced by Mars Petcare at its Pennsylvania plant. About 40 percent of those infections involved infants.

The cases engulfed Pennsylvania (29), New York (9) and Ohio (7). There were also reported cases in Alabama, California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Carolina and Virginia.

Officials learned that among the victims, the median age was 3 years, about 24 were less than 1 year old, 15 had bloody diarrhea. 11 people had to be hospitalized. No deaths were reported.

It still remains unclear how the Salmonella bacteria got into the dog food.

The traces of contaminated dry food were discovered in pets’ feces. Salmonella was also found in open bags of the pet food and in unopened bags of dog food made in the Pennsylvania plant.

Mars Petcare recalled some of the products involved, but neither of the recalled brands was related to human illness.

Salmonella bacteria causes the development of an illness called salmonellosis. Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, vomiting, and abdominal cramps 6 to 72 hours after infection. In most cases, the illness lasts 3 to 7 days - most affected persons recover without treatment. In severe cases, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics. Some people afflicted with Salmonellosis later experience reactive arthritis, which can have long-lasting, disabling effects.