Pet Frogs Lead to Salmonella Outbreak Across U.S.

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While many people worry about contracting Salmonella from undercooked poultry, many now have to worry about contracting it from pet frogs.

Small water frogs sold in pet stores have recently been linked to an outbreak of Salmonella infections from 2008 to 2011.

A report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explained the frogs infected 376 people in 44 states and sent 29 percent to the hospital. Most of these cases were children.

“This was the first Salmonella outbreak associated with aquatic frogs, and in this case the frogs are often marketed as good pets for kids,” Shauna Mettee Zarecki, the study’s lead author, said.

“The majority of people didn’t realize there were any risks from these amphibians or other amphibians, like turtles and snakes,” she said.

Zarecki said mostly people hear about Salmonella contaminating food, but reptiles and amphibians also carry it.

Humans get infected with it after they handle the animals or cleaning their containers or water.

Salmonella leads to prolonged diarrhea, cramps, vomiting and persistent fever.

It can be deadly if it is not treated, and is more dangerous for young people and the elderly.

Other research found that reptiles and amphibians are responsible for 74,000 Salmonella infections every year.

The recent report was sparked by a peak of Salmonella infections in 2008, leading researchers to interview those infected, leading them to discover many had recently been in contact with frogs.

They found 67 percent of people in the outbreak were exposed to frogs during the week before the infection.

The majority of them remembered the frog as an African dwarf frog.

“Everything really linked these frogs with the illnesses,” Zarecki said.

Eventually, it led them to a specific breeding facility in Madera County, California.

In that facility, researchers found the same strain of bacteria in their tank water, cleaning equipment and water filters.

But since the frogs can live for five to 18 years, they warn that there might be infected frogs still kept as pets.

“The important consideration with any aquatic pet is to provide adequate filtration to keep the water clean and perform regular partial water changes,” Dr. Nicholas Saint-Erne said.