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.

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K s Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Kali MacDonald
Kali MacDonald6 years ago

It's always safest to wash your hands before and after handling any reptile or amphibian to avoid contamination for yourself and the animal. Especially when it comes to amphibians because they can absorb chemicals through their skin. Most reptile shops offer a special hand sanitizer for after you handle your herps! Thanks for the article!

Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman7 years ago


Danuta W.
Danuta Watola7 years ago

This is great article

Rebecca Sigrist
Rebecca S7 years ago

interesting to know since my firend is about to buy a pet frog :/

ilse diels
.7 years ago

as said before.. frogs arent pets unless you have a lake in your garden :)

Carla Lucas
Carla Lucs7 years ago

All reptiles and amphibians can transmit salmonella, frogs should not be sold as toys as a lot of research into their care is needed, and young children are likley to buy these "toys" on impulse and not care for them properly.

Sarah G.
Sarah Gilmore7 years ago

doesn't surprise me.. frogs, turtles, snakes & lizards belong in the wild

Hartson D.
Hartson Doak7 years ago

If you keep your pet frog or turtle in a clean environment then there is no place for these potential disease organisms to grow

Christine S.

Another reason to not let small children have frogs or baby turtles as pets. The first reason is that most people keep the poor little animal in an inadequate habitat and don't feed it correctly- the second is little kids play with their pet and then don't wash their hands- thus getting exposed to bacteria...