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Dry Pet Food May Be Contaminated With Salmonella

Research reveals first documented outbreak of human illness linked to household pet food use

MONDAY, Aug. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Household use of dry dog and cat food manufactured at a specific plant has been linked to illness among young children over a three-year period, demonstrating for the first time that dry pet food may be associated with Salmonella infection in humans, according to research published online Aug. 9 in Pediatrics.

In two multistate case-control studies, Casey Barton Behravesh, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues evaluated household exposures to animals and pet foods (study one) and risk factors for transmission among infant case-patients (study two).

The researchers identified 79 case-patients in 21 states, 48 percent of whom were under the age of 3 years. They found that case-households were significantly more likely than control households to report dog contact (matched odds ratio [mOR], 3.6) and to have bought manufacturer X brands of dry pet food in the recent past (mOR, 6.9), with illness among infant case-patients significantly associated with feeding pets in the kitchen (OR, 4.4). The researchers also found the outbreak strain of Salmonella in opened bags of dry dog food produced at plant X, fecal specimens from dogs that ate manufacturer X dry dog food, unopened bags of dog and cat foods from plant X, and an environmental sample and unopened pet food bags from plant X. The manufacturer subsequently recalled 105 brands of dry dog and cat food, permanently closing plant X, after more human illnesses were linked to the outbreak strain in 2008.

"This investigation demonstrated that dry pet food may be contaminated with Salmonella and raises concerns that such contamination could be an underrecognized source of human infections, especially in young children," the authors write.

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