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More Cases in Frog-Linked Salmonella Outbreak

In its latest update on Salmonella infections associated with pet frogs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Thursday said two more cases have been confirmed, bringing the total to 224 cases from 42 states, and that the implicated breeder has stopped distributing the African dwarf frogs

“This outbreak likely includes considerably more than the 224 laboratory-confirmed cases,” the CDC stated in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, because only an estimated 3 percent of Salmonella infections are laboratory confirmed and reported to surveillance systems.

The illnesses, which have been ongoing since April 2008, have been traced to a single breeder of African dwarf frogs in California.  Environmental samples on three occasions at the breeding facility yielded the outbreak strain, Salmonella enterica serotype Typhimurium, and the strain was also confirmed in aquarium samples in the homes of six patients.

The breeder, who sold the frog to distributors, not directly to pet stores or to the public, voluntarily suspended distribution of the frogs on April 19.  Public health officials have not released the name of the breeder, but say they are working with the person to implement control measures. 

Distribution of African Dwarf Frogs is unregulated by federal or state agencies, the CDC notes.

Seventy percent of those sickened with Salmonella from contact with the frogs are under age 10. The median age of case patients in this outbreak is 5 years. Thirty percent of the case patients have been so ill they required hospitalization.

The CDC emphasized that need for awareness of the risk of Salmonella infections associated with keeping amphibians, including frogs, as pets, and to avoid contact with frogs, water used by the frogs, and their habitats. Additional information is available at http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/water-frogs-0411.

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