May 4, 2012 at 4:54 PM ET
At least 14 people in nine states have been sickened by a rare strain of salmonella linked to contaminated dry dog food, government health officials reported.
Some of the human salmonella Infantis infections appeared to be tied to at least three recalled brands of dry dog food produced at a single South Carolina plant operated by Diamond Pet Foods of Meta, Mo.
People could have become ill after handling the contaminated dry food or after contact with animals that had eaten the food. Anyone who may have become sick after such contact should consult a health care provider, officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised.
Diamond Pet Foods’ first recall was issued on April 6, when company officials voluntarily pulled select bags of Diamond Naturals Lamb Meal & Rice dry dog food.
On April 26, certain bags of Diamond Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul Adult Light Formula dog food was recalled, followed by a recall on April 30 of select bags of Diamond Puppy Formula dry dog food.
At the time of the recalls, Diamond Pet Foods officials said that no human cases had been reported.
Michigan agriculture officials detected the contamination in April in an unopened bag of the lamb meal dog food during a routine retail testing of dry pet food, according to a CDC report.
CDC investigators later took evidence of the rare salmonella Infantis strain -- which is typically reported three or fewer times per month -- and then checked for human cases that matched the genetic fingerprint of the bacteria.
Interviews with ill people showed that seven of 10 ill people said they had contact with a dog in the week before getting sick. Of five ill people who recalled the type of dog food, four identified Diamond Pet Foods products.
Among ill people for whom information is available, illnesses began between Oct. 8, 2011 and April 22, 2012. Victims range in age from less than 1 year to 82, with a median age of 48. Among nine patients with available information, five were hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
Victims include three each in Missouri and North Carolina, two in Ohio and one each in Alabama, Connecticut, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Consumers should check their homes for recalled dog food and discard the products promptly.
Pet owners should wash their hands thoroughly after contact with pets and their food.
Symptoms of salmonella typically include vomiting, diarrhea, cramping and fever. They usually resolve within a week, but in serious cases, some patients require hospitalization.
The CDC estimates that for every case of salmonella reported, 29.3 go undetected. Using that multiplier, at least 410 people may have been sickened by the contaminated pet food.