SEATTLE -- The state Department of Health says that of 20 hedgehog-related salmonella cases reported nationally over the past year, seven were in Washington -- and the only fatal case in the country was an elderly man in Spokane County.
The illnesses were caused by a rare but dangerous type of salmonella bacteria carried by the small pets.
Spokesman Tim Church says there were two cases in Pierce County, and lone cases in King, Clark, Thurston, Whitman and Spokane counties. The victim in Spokane was more than 80 years old and passed away this month.
Church says hedgehogs are like a lot of other little animals, such as frogs, turtles and chicks, that can carry salmonella without appearing ill. He says it's important to wash your hands after handling them and to always wash their cages and other items outside, to avoid spreading bacteria in the house.