Like all pets, hedgehogs can carry bacteria and viruses that can make people sick. Recently a number of cases of Salmonella Typhimurium in people have been linked to exposure to pet hedgehogs. This is a bacteria that hedgehogs can carry in their intestines without showing any signs of illness. Symptoms in people include diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. Severe cases require hospitalization and can be fatal. Risks of illness are higher in children under the age of 5, the elderly, and immunocompromised persons. If you feel ill, contact your physician and inform them you have a pet hedgehog.
Other Small Mammals
Ringworm is not actually caused by a worm, it is skin infection caused by a fungus. While lesions alone can lead to high suspicion of an infection, definitive diagnosis is made by culturing the fungus. Because the culture test can take 2-3 weeks to complete, treatment is typically started immediately in suspect cases. If the test is positive, treatment should continue and cultures should be repeated every 3-4 weeks until two consecutive cultures are negative for the fungus.
African Pygmy Hedgehogs or Four-toed hedgehogs are unique, nocturnal mammals related to shrews and moles. As of December 5, 2015, African Pygmy Hedgehogs have been removed from the restricted wildlife list in Arizona, and can be legally kept as pets. Legal restrictions vary from state; be sure to check with your local laws before pursuing ownership.
Pets may be sent home with liquid medications. An oral liquid medication must be given by mouth to be effective. An injectable liquid medication must be given by injection beneath the skin to be useful. Some injectable medications require that the medication is inserted into the muscle to be most effective. It is important that you understand how to read the syringes that are sent home so your pet gets the proper amount of medication at each dose.
All exotic pets, even ones that appear to be outwardly healthy, have the potential to carry and spread contagious diseases that can impact the health of people. This sort of disease is called a "zoonosis", "zoonotic disease", or "zoonotic infection".