My seven year old daughter, Sydney, has been asking for a rodent, any rodent, to go along with her cat, dog and several fish for months.  My wife was glad to see the following headline:

Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Pet Rodents

Hamsters and other rodents kept as pets were linked to about half of human infections during a recent outbreak of salmonella, according to a study being published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.  Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at 28 cases of human infection during a salmonella outbreak from December 2003 to September 2004. In 13 cases, patients had handled pet hamsters, rats or mice, and another two had contact with someone who had touched rodents.

“These animals should be considered cute, but potentially contaminated,” said co-author Stephen Swanson, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota. Other animals, including snakes, chicks and kittens, are potential carriers of a salmonella strain, he said.