Frogs Responsible for Salmonella Outbreak Back in Stores

Despite over 240 illness, mostly in children under the age of 5, Blue Lobster Farms is resuming sales of a pet frog—the African Dwarf Frog—that has been linked to the an outbreak of Salmonella typhimurium.

The Washington Post noted that, in response, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a warning yesterday to consumers that Blue Lobster Farms’ African Dwarf Frog may still present significant health risks. Blue Lobster Farms is shipping the dangerous pet from its Madera County, California, breeding facility, said the Washington Post, adding that officials there could not be reached for comment.

Researchers from the California Department of Public Health took samples from houses in which there were African Dwarf Frogs and found the dangerous S. typhimurium outbreak strain. The investigation into 21 illnesses and two frog distributors led to the discovery of the California breeder as being the common frog source. Blue Lobster Farms, in response, stopped is shipping of the dangerous pets in April. The CDC pointed out that this breeder only sells the contaminated African dwarf frogs to distributors, not to pet stores or the public, said Pediatric Supersite previously.

CDC officials said that the Blue Lobster Farm breeding center was first identified as the outbreak source in 2010 and noted that water frogs, such as those involved in this outbreak, are typically kept in “home aquariums and fish tanks,” said MSNBC previously.

In 2009, we reported that a similar outbreak had sickened 48 people in 25 states; the outbreak is now in the hundreds with 70 percent of those children and 37 patients requiring hospitalization, as of this May. No fatalities were reported. Of those sickened, 65 percent interviewed had some contact with the African Dwarf Frog in the week prior to their failing ill. According to the researchers, people generally fell ill between 1 week to 8 months, with most becoming sick in about 15 days. Most people cited symptoms that include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps.

The CDC is calling for vigilance concerning Salmonella linked to amphibians, such as pet frogs. “Persons at high risk for Salmonella infections, especially children younger than 5 years, pregnant women, and immunocompromised persons, should avoid contact with frogs, water used by the frogs, and their habitats,” the researchers wrote, according to a prior Pediatric Supersite report

While generally associated with food poisoning, a growing percentage of Salmonella-related poisonings initiate with pet reptiles, which can carry a variety of Salmonella without symptoms, releasing the germ in their feces. Small pet reptiles are especially troublesome because they are often bred in crowded conditions and are more likely to be given to children as pets.

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