Dry pet food could lead to sick children

Young children typically explore their world by putting everything they find in their mouths. This habit can make them sick, especially if they discover dry pet food.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention have linked salmonella outbreaks with dry pet foods. Seventy-nine people became ill between 2006 and 2008. Most of the affected individuals were children aged 2 and younger.

According to experts, dry pet foods are an overlooked source of salmonella infections. However, handling of tainted dog food and dirty pet bowls, then touching the mouth afterward can lead to infection. Young children who mistakenly eat dry dog pellets or chunks can also become ill.

Households with young children and pets living together should take precautions to prevent salmonella contamination, which can result in diarrhea, fever, abdominal upset, and, in severe cases, hospitalization.

Here are some methods to protect the family.

• Wash hands after coming in contact with pet food or bowls.

• Routinely clean pet feeding bowls and the area where the bowls are placed.

• Pick up pet bowls from the floor when they’re not in use.

• Keep children away from pet food and pet bowls.

• Try to clean pets’ food and water bowls in a separate sink or tub, not in the kitchen.

• Avoid bathing infants in the kitchen sink, unless the area has been thoroughly disinfected.

Generally, pet food companies are diligent in their preparation of foods to minimize the chance of salmonella presence. However, taking precautions around the house can eliminate the chance of illness.

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2011-03-03 digital edition

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