Human Salmonella outbreak traced back to popular dog treat, CDC says

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- There's a new warning about pet food that's making people sick-- pig ear treats.

"They're greasy, smelly - just what dogs love," said Pet Food Express sales consultant, Tes Sterling.

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But now the fleshy K9 snacks are gone from Pet Food Express store shelves.

Sterling showed an ABC7 crew a bin of pig ears in their stock room. "We have a big sign for us just to know they were recalled," said Sterling. The sign says, "DO NOT STOCK."

The CDC and FDA both put out warnings on Wednesday, advising people not to buy or feed any pig ear dog treats to pets, since they are thought to be getting humans sick.

According to the CDC, 127 people in 33 states, including California, have contracted Salmonella. And all those cases can be traced back to pig ear dog treats.

"Salmonella is a fecal-oral sickness, so it comes from fecal contamination of food and treats that the dogs are chewing on," said Heather Burns, a veterinarian at The Castro Animal Hospital.

Dr. Burns says pig ears are not her choice for healthy or safe treats, especially in light of the Salmonella outbreak, a bacterial infection that can be very dangerous to people and pets. "Symptoms of Salmonella poisoning (in a dog) can be vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain."

"Pets are ingesting it and getting it in their mouth and then licking owners or licking their body parts, open sores, little kids are more susceptible," said Dr. Burns, explaining how the bacteria can be transferred from pig ear to pet and then human.

Instead of pig ears, Dr. Burns recommends soft, natural treats that are made in the U.S.

Pet Food Express says people can bring their pig ears back to their stores and exchange them for something new. "Even if it's not from Pet Food Express, we're more than happy to take it back," said Sterling.

The CDC says no deaths have been reported as a result of the Salmonella outbreak.

The CDC also says, "no single supplier, distributor or common brand of pig ear treats has been identified that could account for all the illnesses."

The CDC recommends throwing away all pig ears, avoiding dog kisses after dogs eat, and washing hands when handling pet food.
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