Salmonella from Pet Frogs Sickens 200+

A <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/food_poisoning">Salmonella outbreak has sickened at least 217 people and is being blamed on pet African dwarf water frogs, according to government health officials, MSNBC reports. Most of those who have fallen ill have been young children.

The infections have all originated from one California frog breeder and the Salmonella has been identified as Salmonella Typhimurium, said MSNBC, which added that the outbreak spans 41 states and has been ongoing since April 2009, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC investigators confirmed the presence of Salmonella in the breeder’s environment in March and tests continue to determine if there is a match to the strain being seen in the nationwide outbreak, added MSNBC.

The infections have been reported in people under one year of age and as old as 73 years of age, with a median age of five, said MSNBC; over 70-percent of those stricken have been under the age of 10 and about 30 percent have required hospitalization.

Interviews with those who have fallen ill revealed that they had contact with the frogs in the days prior to their falling ill and, of those who were able to identify the frog, 84 percent said they were in contact with African dwarf frogs, according to the CDC, wrote MSNBC. People generally fell ill between one week to eight months, with most becoming sick in about 15 days. Most people have cited symptoms that include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps.

CDC officials said that the California 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. In 2009, we wrote that the outbreak had sickened 48 people in 25 states.

Salmonellae are, explained MedPageToday previously, “natural intestinal flora for all reptiles.” The problem with the small reptiles is that children likely handle them differently than they do other reptiles such as “pet snakes, lizards, or iguanas,” noted MedPageToday.

During a massive outbreak in 2007—considered the largest in this country linked to turtles—children handling the small pets experienced an astronomical 41-fold increased risk of Salmonella contamination versus control groups. Emerging evidence points to a rise in reptile-originated Salmonella outbreaks.

While salmonella bacteria are most often associated with food poisoning, a growing percentage 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.

Very young children are at greatest risk for Salmonella infections and CDC officials warn that water frogs should not be given to children and that frogs should not be introduced to “homes with young children, children’s care centers, hospitals, and nursing homes,” wrote MSNBC. Health officials also point out that not just water frogs, but other amphibians and reptiles, such as turtles, can pose risks.

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