Hedgehogs linked to salmonella outbreak in Washington

SPOKANE, Wash. - An unusual family pet is now the source of a salmonella outbreak. According to the Washington Department of Health the animals are to blame for the death of an elderly Spokane man and for sickening several others.

Rasmussen's Reptile at NorthTown mall has sold hedgehogs for the past couple years. Owner Jodi Rassmussen said she has never had any problem with the animal. In fact they are so popular, they have a hard time keeping them in the store.

But according to the Department of Health, hedgehogs can carry the salmonella bacteria and not exhibit any signs of being sick. That means it's important to wash your hands after handling them.

Hedgehogs linked to salmonella outbreak in Washington

"It's more or less just a health cleanliness issue." Rassmussen said. "Wash your hands after you handle or clean anything your pet has been in contact with."

But be careful how you wash them.

"Don't wash that stuff out in your regular house sink," Rassmussen advised. Otherwise the risk exists for cross contamination.

The last time the state received a report of a salmonella illness linked to a hedgehog was in 2005.