Salmonella Outbreak Blamed On Pet Frogs

An emerging, nationwide outbreak of <"">Salmonella poisoning that has sickened 48 people in 25 states, is being blamed on pet frogs, said the Associated Press (AP). Illnesses started being reported in June and continued through last month, said the AP.

A health official probe found that many of those who fell ill had been in contact with frogs, specifically the African Dwarf frog, said the AP, which noted that the Salmonella strain involved was found in aquariums with frogs in three homes in which people were sickened. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said the AP, reported the outbreak yesterday.

Regarding issues with pet reptiles and Salmonella poisoning, a federal law has been in place since 1975, that prohibits sale of small pet turtles with shells, called carapace, that are shorter than four inches in shell length; however, public health officials say enforcement is spotty. Perhaps it is this uneven monitoring that allows the tiny banned pets to be sold in pet stores across the country more than three decades after the ban, an issue on which we have long been writing.

In 2007, patients who began being diagnosed with Salmonella enterica serotype Paratyphi B var Java infections also reported recent turtle exposure. Some 107 infections with the same strain were reported in 34 states, said MedPageToday, previously. The median patient age was seven, most of the turtles involved were less than four inches and banned under federal regulations, and over one-third of the banned turtles were bought in retail pet establishments. “Small turtles continue to be sold and pose a health risk, especially to children…. And many people remain unaware of the link between Salmonella infection and reptile contact,” wrote MedPageToday, quoting the team.

Salmonellae are, explained MedPageToday, “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.

MedPageToday recently reported that during a massive outbreak two years ago—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.

The team cited American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that state that the household turtle population doubled in the United States from about 950,000 in 1996 to nearly two million just ten years later, reported MedPageToday. The researchers also noted a doubling in household market penetration during the same time said MedPageToday. 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.

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