Do not, under any circumstances, kiss or snuggle your hedgehog, warned the Center for Disease Control on Friday.
According to the CDC, there’s a salmonella outbreak in eight different states, and 91 percent of the 11 affected individuals claimed they had contact with a hedgehog.
Salmonella—a bacteria that can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, a fever, and general misery when it’s inside human bodies—is common in hedgehog poo, according to the CDC. Even if your adorable hedgehog looks perfectly clean and generally cute, it’s quite possible that there’s fecal matter on its face and body. If you kiss your hedgehog, you could come into contact with that hedgehog poo.
“In some people,” the CDC warns, “the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized.”
The affected individuals all got their hedgehogs from different places, so it’s unclear how or where exactly the outbreak started. Salmonella was found in culture samples from three hedgehogs owned by two individuals, but they did not sample the hedgehogs owned by all 11 people.
At the moment, we don’t know how the hedgehogs came into contact with salmonella.
Hedgehogs are somewhat of a darling of the internet. On Instagram, there are more than 2.7 million posts that include #hedgehog in the caption, according to the app search query. Arguably everything that they do is cute—except, of course, for getting fecal matter all over themselves and giving their owners salmonella. Please, listen to the CDC and refrain from kissing your hedgehog, make sure you wash your hands after touching one, and be sure to clean its cage and supplies. Thank you.