WASHINGTON – An outbreak of Salmonella Reading infections that so far has sickened 90 people included two individuals living in a household where raw turkey pet food was fed to pets. Both the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are warning pet owners against feeding their pets raw food.

The outbreak strain was identified in samples taken from raw turkey pet food, raw turkey products and live turkeys, according to the CDC. “CDC does not recommend feeding raw diets to pets,” the agency said in advice to consumers. “Germs like Salmonella in raw pet food can make your pets sick. Your family also can get sick by handling the raw food or by taking care of your pet.”

On its website, the FDA said raw pet food is more likely to be contaminated with foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella and Listeria Monocytogenes. Humans can become infected by handling contaminated raw pet food, touching contaminated surfaces and utensils and from handling an infected and accidentally transferring the bacteria to their mouths from their hands, the agency explained. Additionally, some animals can carry Salmonella and Lm without showing signs of illness.

Pet owners that choose to feed their pets raw food should take such precautions as thorough hand washing after handling raw pet food or surfaces and utensils that have come in contact with the food; cook all food to a proper internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria if using raw ingredients for homemade pet food; and refrain allowing your pet to lick your face, especially after it has just finished eating raw food.

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