Pet Frogs Can Transmit Salmonella
While most people may rightly associate salmonella with chicken eggs and meat, a research study has shown another source could be pet frogs, specifically African dwarf frogs. Researchers found these small frogs which are marketed as good pets for children and the elderly, could be the source of an outbreak of salmonella infections in 31 states and 113 people. Seventy-seven percent of salmonella cases in the study were in children less than ten years old. None of the patients died, but about 35 percent needed to be hospitalized. During their research project the Centers for Disease Control found 30 percent of those with salmonella had touched pet African dwarf frogs, 41 percent said they fed them, 61 percent said they touched the frog’s habitat, and 64 percent touched the frog’s water.
The Centers for Disease Control says there are 1.4 million human salmonella infections, 15,000 hospitalizations, and 400 deaths each year in the United States. Most salmonella infections come from food, but contact with animals is also a common source. In fact a study conducted from 1996-1997 found there were 74,000 salmonella infections each year from exposure to reptiles and amphibians. CDC research also found some people were not aware amphibians like frogs and turtles could transmit salmonella thus putting them more at risk for exposure. Aquarium water, they say, is an ideal environment for salmonella to grow in, and young children could be more at risk because they typically don’t wash their hands as much as they should. Young children also sometimes put their unwashed fingers in their mouths, and salmonella infections generally are caused by ingesting the bacteria. Additionally, CDC research showed some people were washing home aquariums in kitchen sinks, and unknowingly contaminating a food preparation area with salmonella.
Currently there aren’t any regulations prohibiting the sale of small frogs so consumer awareness and being informed about the disease and how to prevent it could reduce one’s salmonella risk. Symptoms are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, chills, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Salmonella can be life-threatening to babies, young children, pregnant mothers and the elderly.