Yet Another Source of Salmonella!
Salmonella species commonly cause food-borne gastroenteritis. In the United States, it has been estimated that Salmonella is responsible for 1.4 million illnesses and 600 deaths annually. Outbreaks have been associated with a variety of foods, including eggs, cheese, dry cereal, undercooked ground beef, fresh sprouts, fresh vegetables, juice, and cantaloupes. This case report describes a series of patients that had contact with a commercial pet treat consisting of dried steak patties. Illness occurred over a 4-month period in a 1-month-old infant, a 5-year-old sibling, and their father soon after acquiring a puppy that was fed the dog treat. Two other individuals that had handled the treats also became ill. Cultures of stool samples from all pets in the involved households were negative for Salmonella species. A culture of one of the dog treats did generate S. enterica serotype Newport PT 14.

COMMENTARY: People usually become infected with Salmonella from eating food contaminated with feces. Thorough cooking kills the organism, so the biggest risk is from raw foods or foods that have been cross-contaminated by handling. Contact with contaminated pig-ear dog treats has previously been implicated as a possible source of Salmonella infection in people. Although Salmonella is not considered a high risk for healthy adult dogs, owners should be encouraged to wash their hands after handling dog chews.

Association between handling of pet treats and infection with Salmonella enterica serotype Newport expressing the AmpC β-lactamase, CMY-2. Pitout JDD, Reisbig MD, Mulvey M, et al. J CLIN MICROBIOL 41:4578-4582, 2003.