National Liver Awareness Month on October, 2023: I would like a pet hedgehog, aby pros and cons?
October, 2023 is National Liver Awareness Month 2023.
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Salmonellosis is the main zoonotic disease associated with hedgehogs, as well as several other exotic pet species . Although affected hedgehogs can display anorexia, diarrhea, and weight loss, [approximately equal to] 28% of hedgehogs are asymptomatic carriers (11). Several recent reports have shown that hedgehogs play a major role in the transmission of Salmonella Tilene, a rarely encountered serotype of humans . In 1994, Salmonella serotype Tilene infection was diagnosed in a 10-month-old girl in the state of Washington The source of the organism was traced back to African pygmy hedgehogs raised by the child's family. Although the infant had no direct contact with the hedgehogs, the animals were handled frequently by 1 member of the family. Cultures from the child's asymptomatic parents were negative, and the breeding herd of 80 hedgehogs was apparently healthy, but a stool sample from 1 of 3 hedgehogs yielded S. Tilene. A second S. Tilene case was reported later that year from Texas. That patient's family also owned a hedgehog.
Another condition of zoonotic concern reported in hedgehogs is systemic mycobacteriosis caused by Mvcobaeterium marinum . A European hedgehog was brought for treatment with nonsuppurative masses in the subcutis of the ventral cervical region The animal worsened and died. On necropsy, multiple granulomatous lesions found in lymph nodes, lungs, spleen, liver, and heart were positive for M. marinum in culture. In the reported case, the hedgehog apparently acquired M. marinure from the fish tank in which the animal was housed at a pet store . In humans, the organism is associated with a cutaneous disease called "fish-tank granuloma," which is frequently contracted from contact with aquariums . The organism typically gains entry through some wound or abrasion in the skin, such as may be produced by hedgehog spines, and may spread systemically along the lymphatic system. The resulting disease produces lesions resembling those of sporotrichosis, tularemia, nocardiosis, and blastomycosis.
Dermatophytosis, or ringworm, has been described in the hedgehog . Lesions in the animal are similar to those found in other species and include nonpruritic, dry, scaly skin with bald patches and spine loss. Trichophyton mentagrophytes var. erinacei is the dermatophyte most commonly isolated from the quills and underbelly of hedgehogs, although Microsporum spp. have also been reported Hedgehogs can be asymptomatic carriers of these fung, and herein lies their potential for zoonotic transmission.
All pets have a flora of parasites and microbes, some of which are potentially zoonotic Ownership of exotic pets may lead to increased exposure to various infectious agents, including exotic ones. However, the risk for exposure to zoonotic agents is substantially increased for people rescuing sick hedgehogs or rehabilitating them. Preventing illness depends on good hygiene and increased awareness, especially when young, elderly, or immunocompromised persons are involved Pet hedgehog owners should systematically wash their hands after contact with their pets and make sure that any person who handled their pet will do so. Similarly, such pets should not be housed or handled in food preparation areas, as is recommended also for pet reptiles (41). Control of zoonotic diseases is dependent on breaking the cycle of transmission, and education is the key to controVeterinarians should be the optimal source of providing correct information to clients making choices about owning exotic pets. Overall, ownership of exotic pets should not be encouraged because exotic animals and wildlife do not usually make good pets and can transmit zoonotic agents, as stated by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians. In view of the popularity of hedgehogs and growing numbers of at-risk persons, veterinarians and other medical personnel must increase their understanding of the animal's zoonotic potential.