Header graphic for print

Food Safety News

Breaking news for everyone's consumption

Breeder Resumes Selling Frogs Linked to Outbreak

Salmonella-contaminated frogs from a breeder in Madera County, CA have now made 241 people throughout the United States sick, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday. The CDC said Blue Lobster Farms had agreed in April to stop shipping African dwarf frogs, but resumed distribution in early June.

africanfrog-iphone.jpg

In its latest update on the widespread outbreak involving the pet frogs, the CDC warned that Blue Lobster Farms does not sell directly to the public, but said the water frogs may be found in pet stores, educational stores, toy stores, fairs, carnivals, from online retailers, and other venues.

“Handle all surfaces that have come in contact with water frogs as if they are contaminated with Salmonella bacteria, because there is a good possibility that they are,” the CDC report stated.

The multistate outbreak was first reported in 2009, after investigators looking into cases of Salmonella Typhimurium discovered the infections weren’t caused by something the patients ate, but by handling water frogs.

 The CDC says the actual onset of the outbreak may have been as early as April 2008.

In its previous updates, the CDC did not name the frog breeder. This time it identified Blue Lobster Farms and said officials with the Madera County Department of Environmental Health had been working with the owner on interventions, testing and monitoring.

But “the effectiveness of these interventions is unknown,” the CDC said, because new cases of Salmonella infection related to the outbreak continue to be reported.

Several lab tests have confirmed the outbreak strain — in water from a frog aquarium in the New York household of a sick infant and on a frog in Michigan, among many others. Environmental samples taken at Blue Lobster Farms also yielded isolates matching the outbreak strain, according to Wednesday’s CDC report.

In May 2011, the California Department of Public Health sent a letter to the direct customers of the breeder recommending they discontinue distribution and sale of the frogs and decontaminate their tanks or aquariums. At that time the implicated breeder was said to have voluntarily suspended distribution a month earlier. The outbreak toll stood at 224 illnesses.

As of July 18, the CDC said, 42 states have reported Salmonella cases linked to the buggy frogs. Of the 241 sickened since April 1, 2009, 69 percent have been children under 10.  Nearly one-third of the case patients have been hospitalized.

Washington state has reported 24 Salmonella infections, followed by California with 21 cases linked to the frogs.  There have been 19 sickened in Utah; 17 in Pennsylvania; 12 in Colorado; 11 in Virginia,; 10 in Arizona and Illinois; 8 in New York; 7 in Massachusetts and Ohio; 6 in Michigan; 5 in Alaska, Idaho, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Oregon and Texas; 4 in Georgia, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Nevada, Tennessee and Wisconsin; 3 in Connecticut, Kansas, Louisiana and South Dakota; and 2 in Alabama, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico and Oklahoma; and one in Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia.

The CDC advises people who keep these water frogs as pets to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately after handling anything, including the water, that the frogs had contact with, and to not use kitchen sinks to empty the aquarium. If bathtubs are used for cleaning the frog’s habitat, they should be cleaned thoroughly and disinfected with bleach.

 

Water frogs are not an appropriate pet for children under 5 years old, and if possible, should not be present in homes with young children, the CDC advises.

Pet stores and others who sell water frogs, the CDC said, should provide health-related warnings about the risk of Salmonella infection and provide instructions for proper handling.

© Food Safety News
  • B D H

    This article’s headline is bogus! No reports indicate ANY frogs currently being sold, has Salmonella. This is a smear against a company who produces virtually ALL the African Dwarf Frogs in this country. This article is also making a mountain out of a molehill. The CDC has only 241 cases reported IN THREE Years! And of those, ONLY 30% requires more than some Pepto-Bismol. Do the Math… 240 cases / 3 years = 80 cases per year. 30% of 80 = ONLY 24 CASES REQUIRING a Doctor visit! ONLY 24 cases A YEAR! …in other words, 2 cases a month NATIONWIDE.
    Taken in context, around a MILLION African Dwarf Frogs are sold nationwide EACH YEAR.
    Compare that to all the cases of serious Salmonella poisioning from poorly prepared beef, pork, & chicken consumption, poor sanitary conditions, unwashed vegetables, unclean living conditions. The odds of catching Salmonella from an aquatic animal like a African Dwarf Frog is very, very, VERY, extreme.
    QUIT PICKING ON THESE FROGS!
    No one ever mentions that the African Dwarf Frog Species, originally from a small region in West Africa, NO LONGER HAS A NATURAL HABITAT! The rainforest this frog is from has been de-forested, the land turned into farmland. Biologists have not seen the species there IN TEN YEARS. The African Dwarf Frog exists solely now because of Fish farms like Blue Lobster Farms for the Pet trade. I bet some animal rights people haven’t considered the fate of this animal in that light.
    It’s ironic that Man has destroyed this animals natural home, now Man is whipping up hysteria over miniscule numbers that can lead to the demise of a industry that is keeping it alive. C’Mon! Investigate THAT! Report That!
    Wash your hands WITH SOAP after handling ANY amphibian, small children should never handle ANY living creature without adult supervision, the African Dwarf Frog is AQUATIC… like a fish it DIES out of water. Don’t handle it. Period. USE COMMON SENSE.

  • mrothschild

    BDH: There are a number of errors in your comment. First, the headline simply states that frogs from a breeder have been linked to an outbreak, which is accurate.
    Next, there have been 241 cases reported since April 1, 2009; that’s 241 illnesses in slightly more than two years, not three years. The CDC report says there may have been even more cases in 2008 that aren‚Äôt included in the 241 total.
    Your math is wrong. The CDC report says that 30 percent of the 241 — 72 people — were admitted to the hospital since April 1, 2009. Those unfortunate individuals would have had severe symptoms. All of the case patients, however, would have required doctor visits, because that‚Äôs the only way their Salmonella infections could have been confirmed ‚Äì through a stool specimen tested in a lab. For every confirmed case of salmonellosis, the actual number of infections may be 30 times greater, so by that estimate, these 241 people sick with Salmonella poisoning from their disease-carrying pet frogs could be just the tip of the iceberg.
    By the way, antacids are not effective, and also are not recommended, for anyone suffering from the painful abdominal cramps, fever and profuse bouts of diarrhea that are common symptoms of salmonellosis.
    Finally, far from whipping up hysteria, this report and the CDC report it is drawn from point out how people who keep African Dwarf Frogs as pets can take common sense precautions to guard against the dangerous pathogens that amphibians may carry.
    Whether one sells chicken meat, peanut butter, papayas, live chicks or pet frogs, it must be difficult to live with the fact that something you profited from made an unsuspecting customer sick. I imagine that’s especially hard when those affected are very young children, knowing their illnesses can be life-threatening and also can have long-term, debilitating consequences, such as reactive arthritis. Aren’t we all fortunate that trustworthy merchants don’t sell contaminated goods?

  • Mary Rothschild

    BDH: There are a number of errors in your comment. First, the headline simply states that frogs from a breeder have been linked to an outbreak, which is accurate.
    Next, there have been 241 cases reported since April 1, 2009; that’s 241 illnesses in slightly more than two years, not three years. The CDC report says there may have been even more cases in 2008 that aren‚Äôt included in the 241 total.
    Your math is wrong. The CDC report says that 30 percent of the 241 — 72 people — were admitted to the hospital since April 1, 2009. Those unfortunate individuals would have had severe symptoms. All of the case patients, however, would have required doctor visits, because that‚Äôs the only way their Salmonella infections could have been confirmed ‚Äì through a stool specimen tested in a lab. For every confirmed case of salmonellosis, the actual number of infections may be 30 times greater, so by that estimate, these 241 people sick with Salmonella poisoning from their disease-carrying pet frogs could be just the tip of the iceberg.
    By the way, antacids are not effective, and also are not recommended, for anyone suffering from the painful abdominal cramps, fever and profuse bouts of diarrhea that are common symptoms of salmonellosis.
    Finally, far from whipping up hysteria, this report and the CDC report it is drawn from point out how people who keep African Dwarf Frogs as pets can take common sense precautions to guard against the dangerous pathogens that amphibians may carry.
    Whether one sells chicken meat, peanut butter, papayas, live chicks or pet frogs, it must be difficult to live with the fact that something you profited from made an unsuspecting customer sick. I imagine that’s especially hard when those affected are very young children, knowing their illnesses can be life-threatening and also can have long-term, debilitating consequences, such as reactive arthritis. Aren’t we all fortunate that trustworthy merchants don’t sell contaminated goods?