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New York Lab Unraveled Salmonella Frog Case

A lab in New York sounded the alarm about the latest outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium connected to African dwarf frogs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports this week.

In March, testing conducted by the New York State Department of Health Wadsworth Center Laboratory found the bacteria in a water sample collected from an aquarium containing the pet frogs.  A sick infant in the household also was infected with the same strain, the CDC said.

That test spurred local health department staff in California to pay a visit to a frog breeder who was at the center of a Salmonella outbreak that began in 2009 and continued through 2010. Environmental samples collected there were tested in CDC labs and at the California Department of Public Health Microbial Diseases Laboratory Branch.  Most were positive for the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhi.

As of April 18, 216 people in 41 states have had Salmonella infections because of pet frogs.  Babies have been infected. Seventy-one percent of the victims are younger than 10.  Thirty percent of the case patients have been so severely ill they were hospitalized.

Once again, the CDC has warned that it is not a good idea to keep African dwarf frogs as pets, particularly in households with children.  

But if you do, the CDC reminds frog owners to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling anything — including the aquarium water — that has come into contact with the frogs.  Don’t use your kitchen sink to empty or wash the frog tank.  

Ideally, wash the tank outside and use disposable gloves. If you use your bathtub to clean your frog’s habitat, clean it thoroughly and disinfect it with bleach afterward.

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