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‘Pocket’ pets: Handle with care

Furry pocket pets like mice and hamsters can spread more than smiles and laughter through your household—they can also spread Salmonella, bacteria that causes abdominal cramping, diarrhea and high fever. Salmonella poisoning is usually caused by eating contaminated foods like poultry, eggs and meat or handling reptiles. However, other pets like rodents and birds have been found to spread Salmonella, too. The bacteria may live in the intestinal tracts of seemingly healthy animals and be shed in feces. While experts don’t say you must give up these pets, you do need to wash your hands well after handling or caring for animals, especially pet chicks, kittens, hedgehogs, mice, rats, hamsters and reptiles.