Reporting in the September issue of Pediatrics, researchers led by Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that contact with pets and contact with the pet’s environment — their bed and where they eat and sleep, for example — can result in human infections. The authors of the study say they tracked a 2006-2008 Salmonella outbreak that sickened 79 American patients – about half of them 2 years old or younger – to household use of dry cat and dog food.
Feeding pets in the kitchen quadrupled the risk of illness.
Another precaution is to have well-packaged, well-stored pet food, keeping it out of the reach of infants and toddlers.
This new study, “re-emphasizes the importance of washing your hands whenever you deal with anything from a pet, including petting him, touching his mouth or cleaning up after him, especially for children whose immune systems are very weak in comparison to adults,” said Dr. Philip Tierno, clinical professor of microbiology and pathology at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City and author of The Secret Life of Germs.