ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — I’ve cared for multiple species during my career, including a few pigs. To my knowledge, no person has fed dog ears to their pigs, but, sadly, the opposite is commonplace. The pigs may now be getting their revenge. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has discovered an outbreak of salmonella infections in dogs who have consumed prepared porcine pinnas (pig ears). I don’t want to be a boar, but this could get messy.
The Food and Drug Administration has found that this particular strain of the salmonella bacteria is resistant to multiple antibiotics. Beyond the canine risk, 143 people who have recently handled pig ears or who’ve cared for a dog who has indulged in this delicacy have also gotten sick. While no human deaths have been reported, 30% of infected people have been hospitalized for treatment. A full 20% of these sick folks have been children under the age of 5.
The first question for my ears is often, “Which brands have been affected?” Preliminary investigation suggests that multiple suppliers have been purveyors of these appendages, some of which have originated from porkers in Argentina, Brazil and Colombia. The official recommendation is not to feed any pig ears to anybody. No squealing or belly aching allowed; just toss those ears and then wash your hands. Storage areas should also be cleaned thoroughly with hot soapy water.
Know the symptoms. Salmonella infection can lead to diarrhea that may contain blood. Sick dogs might also vomit, spike a fever and become lethargic. Minor infections may result in no symptoms at all. Don’t gamble with this disease. Come clean with your veterinarian and confess your canine’s consumption of possibly salmonella-contaminated pig ears.
The CDC has also listed human symptoms. Much like infected dogs, folks who’ve failed to wash their hands after handling pig ears or who have kept company with a pig ear eater may suffer abdominal cramps, fever and diarrhea, usually occurring 12 to 72 hours following exposure. Most affected humans recover without medical treatment. Listen to the infectious disease experts: Wash your hands every time you handle animal products. This investigation will continue.
Each week, Dr. Jeff Nichol makes a short video, blog or a Facebook Live to help bring out the best in pets. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Dr. Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). You can post pet questions at facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by mail to 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.