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Salmonella-tainted treat sickens Oregon dog

A dog in Oregon has become the first confirmed canine victim in the nationwide salmonella outbreak.

The dog, a 3-year-old mixed breed in southern Oregon named Levi, got sick late last month after eating Happy Tails multi-flavored dog biscuits, said Emilio DeBess, the state public health veterinarian. DeBess said tests on the biscuits showed they were tainted.

The outbreak that has sickened at least 575 people nationwide and been linked to eight deaths.

DeBess said the biscuits — one of the brands that have been recalled — tested postive for salmonella, according to the Portland Oregonian.

In a related development Friday, The Associated Press reported that Peanut Corp. of America’s plant at Blakely, Ga., knowingly shipped salmonella-contaminated products as far back as 2007, according to inspection records released Friday.

In Oregon, DeBess said Levi’s illness is the first time since the outbreak started in September that health authorities in the U.S. have confirmed a case of a sick dog, and the first time that salmonella has been found in dog biscuits.

With the potential for cross-contamination, DeBess said, people should be especially diligent about washing their hands after touching a dog with bloody diarrhea.

Oregon’s human toll also grew Friday, with health authorities confirming another new case. That gives the state a total of 12 so far, with seven people getting sick in January alone.  In Washington state Friday, health officials confirmed four new cases, giving the state 17 to date.

Levi, who lives with a family in Oakland that has three other dogs, is recovering, DeBess said.

The family fed their dogs the Happy Tails treats, which they bought at an Albertsons. They were among several brands of dog biscuits recalled because they contained ingredients from Peanut Corp.’s plant where federal inspectors found salmonella.

When one dog got sick, the family’s vet contacted DeBess, who had asked the state’s 1,500 veterinarians to look for dogs with symptoms of a salmonella infection, which include bloody diarrhea and vomiting.

The first tests came back negative. But then Levi got sick, and lab tests confirmed he was infected with the same strain of salmonella that has sickened people in 43 states and Canada and been linked to eight deaths, including one in Idaho.


Comment from Anne-n-Spencer
Time February 7, 2009 at 10:41 pm

People need to be aware that a large proportion of dogs and cats can be infected with salmonella and never show any symptoms at all. In fact, it’s much more common for them NOT to show symptoms or to become ill. They can transmit it via both their feces and their saliva. And humans can give it to animals. (There is one type that we share in common, one type that makes us sick but not pets.)

This has always made me wonder about people who like to feed their pets raw chicken. Ugh. But here are a couple of things to think about:

1) Of course you would wash your hands after cleaning-up any feces, regardless. BUT you should also wash your hands BEFORE interacting with your pet if you’ve been handling raw chicken or other likely sources of the bacteria. AND after you’ve had one of those warm, sloppy, wonderful dog-kisses. Lucy Van Pelt was right about dog germs. 🙂
2) Just because your pet is chirky and normal, don’t assume you’ve dodged the salmonella bullet. Keep watching for bulletins and product updates, and check with the vet if you’re suspicious.