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Don't Kiss Your Hamster!

During my first year on the Web, I posted an item meant to amuse as well as warn pet owners about the possibility of infection from a type of bacteria found often in animals, but rarely in humans. Seems a dentist suffered from 10 ulcers from the same kind of bacteria found in one of his cats!

The incidence of friendly, furry pets -- think mice, hamsters, gerbils and guinea pigs -- affecting your health has cropped up again in the news, as rats, mice and hamsters have been blamed for salmonella-borne illnesses suffered by some 30 people in 10 states that were resistant to five different antibiotics. And, this may be understating the problem, according to an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Although such infections are quite common among those who own reptiles, the CDC says gerbils, guinea pigs, ferrets and rabbits could also carry the germ. The agency began an investigation last year after a 5-year-old Minnesota boy was sickened with salmonella after playing and kissing a pet mouse that later died.

The best advice the CDC offered is certainly the easiest: Don't kiss your pets and wash your hands after handling them. And, when it comes to hand washing, your best bet is to avoid antibacterial soaps too. Nothing works better than simple soap and water, according to the most comprehensive study ever done on the topic of hand hygiene products.

Yahoo News May 6, 2005

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