Epidemiology

Don't Keep Hedgehogs

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Science  04 Feb 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5710, pp. 646
DOI: 10.1126/science.307.5710.646a

Rescuing a hedgehog victim of a road accident and nurturing it back to health can be deeply satisfying. But Riley and Chomel show that the payback from such an exotic pet may not be entirely benign. Hedgehogs harbor a variety of pathogens that are potentially transferable to humans and our livestock. Several species of hedgehogs have been widely introduced into the United States and are kept illegally in some states, in the extraordinary number of 40,000 households. A recent survey shows that they can carry foot-and-mouth disease virus, Salmonella, and Mycobacteria, as well as dermal fungal infections. Thousands of years ago, domestication brought humans into contact with a range of new pathogens; the current vogue for exotic pets and food animals will do likewise, namely, monkeypox and plague in prairie dogs and SARS in civets.—CA

Emerg. Infect. Dis. 11, 1 (2005).

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