A recent death and subsequent lawsuit has Moms worried.
When we heard that a woman was suing PetSmart due to an infected hamster that, in a roundabout way, killed her husband (he died after receiving organs from a woman who was infected by the hamster), we got a little freaked. After all, our kids only beg for a hamster--what?--20 times a day.
We called friend of Momâ€˘Logic and pediatrician Dr. Gwenn for the truth. Are hamsters safe for our kids?
"I wish I had good news on this one. LCMV, or lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, is one of the rare rodent infections that can get passed to humans. But it is typically a virus found in live mice. The way pets such as hamsters get LCMV is to get exposed--typically at the breeding facility, according to the CDC.
"We had guinea pigs for five years, and I did worry about this issue. What I did was find a pet store that had a very, very rigorous health screening program complete with daily vet visits. I also had our new piggies examined by a local small animal vet soon after they came home. And, we didn't let the kids handle them much early on until we were sure we had healthy pigs. I'd advise the same for hamsters.
"So, what do I advise parents? Do research and ask a great deal of questions. Don't necessarily go to the biggest chain or the most national. Ask about where the pets come from and how they are screened for health issues. The CDC has great tips to minimize exposure to kids on their site, as well."
Would you allow your kid to get a pet hamster?