Yesterday we received information from the American Veterinary Medical Association that about 80 people in 28 states have now become ill in a salmonella outbreak associated with pet frogs. More than three-quarters of the illnesses involved children younger than 10.
Bacteria matching the outbreak strain were found in aquariums that contained aquatic frogs. The Center for Disease Control and the Utah Department of Public Health (the site of at least 6 cases) are investigating animal distributors and vendors as possible sources of the outbreak.
Symptoms of Salmonella include: diarrhea, fever, and cramps 12-72 hours after the infection enters the body. The infection persists four to seven days and even longer for infected individuals with weaker immune systems.
People who should make explicit efforts to avoid contact with the animals are children, especially those younger than five years old, elderly people, and people with weak immune systems.
Given the findings, the Central for Disease Control advises the following:
- Amphibians should not be kept in child-care centers.
- Habitats containing amphibians should not be kept in a child’s bedroom, especially children aged less than 5 years.
- Do not allow amphibians to roam freely through the house, especially in food preparation areas. Keep amphibians 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 amphibian habitats are cleaned.
- Children aged less than 5 years should not clean habitats.
- Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after cleaning habitats.
Aquatic frogs, such as the African Dwarf frog, are the frogs sold in Brookstone’s Frog-O-Sphere kits and other kits. This salmonella outbreak is another good reason to avoid these live frog kits.