The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced yesterday that the agency is collaborating with public health agencies in several states to investigate a Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak associated with water frogs.  

Water frogs live in aquatic environments such as aquariums or fish tanks.  CDC is warning owners of African Dwarf Water Frogs and other frogs to be aware of the risk of Salmonella infection from the frogs.  

According to the CDC’s latest update, at least 48 people in 25 states have become ill with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium.  CDC numbers include ill individuals in:  Arizona (1), California (2), Colorado (2), Florida (1), Georgia (1), Idaho (1), Illinois (5), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (1), Massachusetts (2), Maryland (2), Michigan (3), Minnesota (1), Missouri (2), Mississippi (1), New Jersey (2), New Mexico (1), New York (1), Ohio (2), Pennsylvania (3), Tennessee (2), Texas (3), Utah (6), Virginia (1), and Washington (1).

The first reported illness began in June and the most recently reported illness began in November.  The majority of patients is less than ten years old, with the median age being four years.  Fifty-five percent (55%) of patients are female. 

The CDC is advising consumers to “Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching any amphibian (e.g., frog) or reptile (e.g, turtle), their housing, or anything (for example, food) that comes in contact with them or their housing.   Adults should assist young children with hand washing.”  CDC also recommends:

  • Amphibians (e.g., frogs) and reptiles (e.g., turtles) should not be kept in child-care centers.
  • Habitats containing amphibians or reptiles should not be kept in a child’s bedroom, especially children aged < 5 years.
  • Do not allow amphibians or reptiles to roam freely through the house, especially in food preparation areas.
  • Keep amphibians and reptiles out of kitchens and other areas where food and drink is prepared or served to prevent contamination.
  • Habitats and their contents should be carefully cleaned outside of the home. Use disposable gloves when cleaning and do not dispose of water in sinks used for food preparation or for obtaining drinking water.
  • Do not bathe animals or their habitats in your kitchen sink. If bathtubs are used for these purposes, they should be thoroughly cleaned afterward. Use bleach to disinfect a tub or other place where reptile or amphibian habitats are cleaned.
  • Children aged <5 years should not clean habitats.
  • Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after cleaning habitats.
  • Pet store owners and others who sell or display amphibians (e.g., frogs) and reptiles (e.g., turtles) should provide information to owners and potential purchasers of amphibians and reptiles about the risks of acquiring salmonellosis from these animals.