Recent pet food recalls could make you sick, too.
According to a new study from medical journal Pediatrics, recalled dry dog and cat food contaminated with salmonella caused 79 infections, including 40 children aged 2 or younger.
Researchers urge dog and cat owners to use careful pet food handling and storage practices, especially around children, in order to prevent illness.
Those precautions include washing hands after contact with pets and their food and bowls, regularly cleaning pet feeding areas, keeping kids younger than 5 years old away from feeding areas, and not bathing infants in the kitchen sink, the Associated Press reports.
This may be a challenge for apartment dwellers and those who live in smaller homes, but pet food and water dishes should be cleaned in separate sinks and tubs — not in the kitchen sink or bathtub. Parents should also avoid bathing infants in the kitchen sink, researchers say.
Symptoms of salmonella infection can surface within 12 to 72 hours of exposure and last about four to seven days in humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These symptoms might include abdominal cramping, fever and diarrhea, according to the Pediatrics study.
In 2007, the CDC, the Food and Drug Administration and other health officials investigated human illnesses linked to dog and cat food made by now-defunct pet food manufacturer Mars Petcare. Interestingly, outbreaks weren’t reported in the pets themselves, but in humans.
Salmonella bacteria can be found in animal intestines and contaminates food and water. The bacteria can also be ingested when contaminated objects are mouthed, so parents of young children prone to putting food or toys into their mouths should be especially careful.
Salmonella spreads from the intestines to the bloodstream and other areas of the body, and infection could be fatal if not treated promptly with antibiotics, according to the CDC, so if you think you're infected, see a health care professional immediately.