Dog Food Danger
Remember being a kid and daring your brother to eat dog food?
Well, don't do that any more.
That timeless prank seems riskier in light of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's report last week about an outbreak of salmonella infections apparently caused by contaminated dry dog food. From 2006 to 2007, a least 70 people got sick -- 40 percent of them infants. And they didn't actually have to ingest any dog food to experience the fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain that salmonella brings. (That's just what otherwise healthy people are in for; those with weakened immune systems can have more severe symptoms or even die.) Merely handling the chow or the bowl the dog eats from, even the sink you rinse the bowl in, can put you in contact with salmonella germs.
No dogs appeared to have been sickened. But as the CDC estimates that only about 3 percent of human salmonella cases are confirmed in a lab, many more than 70 people were likely afflicted during this outbreak.
The Pennsylvania manufacturer of the 50-pound bags of Red Flannel Large Breed Adult Formula Dry Dog Food implicated in -- but not definitively tied to -- the outbreak voluntarily recalled the product and stopped making more while it cleaned its plant.
Salmonella's been linked to pet food --and treats -- before; just check this list maintained by the FDA, the federal agency that oversees pet-food safety. The FDA offers this set of tips for protecting yourself against salmonella should it be in the food you feed your dog. (There's no way of telling if it's tainted, by the way, short of taking it to a lab. I mean laboratory; your Golden Lab won't know.)
Of course, pet food's not the only source of salmonella infection (as I noted in this blog a few weeks ago). From pet turtles to raw eggs, it seems the stuff is lurking everywhere. (Remember last year's peanut-butter-borne salmonella outbreak?)
So what to do? I, for one, am careful what I touch and where I let infants and toddlers roam; I also wash my hands numerous times a day.
But one thing I'm not going to let myself do: become consumed with worry and fear that everything I touch or put in my mouth might make me or my family sick. Call it balancing my physical health with my mental health.
How do you maintain that balance? I'd appreciate your tips.
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