As of August 26, 2019, a total of 143 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella have been reported from 35 states. A list of the states and the number of cases in each can be found on the Map of Reported Cases page.
Illnesses started on dates ranging from June 10, 2015 to July 30, 2019. Ill people range in age from less than 1 year to 90 years, with a median age of 39 years. Sixty (46%) ill people are female. Of 110 ill people with information available, 33 (30%) have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback evidence indicates that contact with pig ear dog treats is the likely source of this outbreak.
In interviews, ill people answered questions about animal and pet food contact in the week before they became ill. Of 100 ill people, 88 (88%) reported contact with a dog before getting sick. Of 80 people with available information, 56 (70%) reported contact with pig ear treats or with dogs who were fed pig ears. Both of these proportions are significantly higher than the results from a survey of healthy people who reported contact with dogs (61%) or handling dog treats (16%), such as pig ears, in the week before interview.
Health and regulatory officials from Connecticut, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and FDA collected pig ears from ill people’s homes, retail locations where ill people reported buying the products or from suppliers and distributors to those locations. Testing identified Salmonella in over 90 samples, with many different strains. A search of the CDC PulseNet database found that people had been infected with some of these strains, including Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella London, and Salmonella Newport. Some of these illnesses date back to 2015. These ill people were added to the outbreak investigation. Additional Salmonella serotypes Anatum, Brandenburg, Give, Livingstone, Panama, Seftenberg, Typhimurium, Uganda, and Worthington were identified. Investigators are working to determine if any human illnesses are linked to these strains.
Some of the tested pig ears were imported from Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia. Some product labels indicated that the pig ears were irradiated; this process should kill Salmonella. Salmonellaidentified in products labeled as irradiated indicate they may not have been irradiated or there was another issue that led to Salmonella contamination.
Several firms have recalled pig ears because they might be contaminated with one or more of the outbreak strains of Salmonella. On July 3, 2019, Pet Supplies Plus recalled bulk pig ears stocked in open bins. On July 26, 2019, Lennox Intl Inc recalled pig ears. On July 30, 2019 Lennox Intl Inc expanded their recall. On August 16, Dog Goods USA LLC recalled bulk and packaged Chef Toby Pig Ears. These recalls do not account for all of the illnesses in this outbreak.
Information collected to date about where ill people bought pig ears has not identified a single supplier, distributor, or common brand of pig ear treats. CDC and FDA recommend that people do not buy pig ear pet treats or feed them to dogs because they could be contaminated with Salmonella and could make people and dogs sick. CDC and FDA recommendations may change as more information becomes available.