Salmonella outbreaks associated with pet frogs

August 1, 2011

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning parents and caregivers that Salmonella Typhimurium present in pet frogs is responsible for a national outbreak of Salmonella illness and continues to pose a serious risk to children, especially sick children.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning parents and caregivers that Salmonella Typhimurium present in pet frogs is responsible for a national outbreak of Salmonella illness and continues to pose a serious risk to children, especially sick children.

The warning specifically concerns African dwarf frogs, a type of water frog purchased for home aquariums, but it notes that other amphibians and reptiles can be infected.

The nationwide outbreak is ongoing-241 persons have been infected over the last 2 years. Of these, 69% are children younger than 10 years (median age, 5 years). No one has died, but 30% of patients have been hospitalized.

The CDC says water frogs are not an appropriate pet for children younger than 5 years and should not be present in homes with young children, child care centers, or hospitals.

If frogs are present, they should be kept out of a child's bedroom, and any surfaces they come in contact with should be handled as though infected. Parents should be on alert for symptoms of Salmonella infection, including diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps, and alert their health care provider if a family member experiences these symptoms.

Health care providers should ask parents and caregivers whether there are frogs, turtles, or other amphibians or reptiles in the home and provide education about the risk of acquiring Salmonella infection from contact with these animals, their water, and their habitats, as well as about proper hand-washing practices.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Investigation update: Ongoing outbreak of human Salmonella Typhimurium infections associated with African dwarf frogs. July 20, 2011. http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/water-frogs-0411/072011/. Accessed August 4, 2011.