The CDC is investigating an apparent multistate outbreak of salmonellosis associated with contact with frogs. As of December 7, 48 infected people had been identified from 25 states – a pretty remarkable distribution. People got sick between June 24 and November 14, 2009. As is normal for Salmonella outbreaks linked to animals, young children have been more commonly affected, with kids under 10 accounting for 77% of cases. Fortunately, no one has died.
As part of the investigation, contact with animals was investigated and their preliminary analysis indicates contact with water frogs like African Dwarf frogs is the likely source of infection.
Amphibians often get ignored when it comes to zoonotic diseases. The risk of salmonellosis associated with reptiles is fairly well known, but not too many people think about the risk associated with amphibians. The same general guidelines for keeping and handling reptiles should be used for amphibians:
- Children under the age of five should not have contact with amphibians, nor should people with compromised immune systems.
- Hands should be thoroughly washed after handling frogs or having contact with their environment (terrarium/aquarium).
- Frogs should not be allowed to roam freely in the house.
- Aquarium/terrarium water should not be dumped out in the kitchen sink. Ideally, amphibian habitats should be cleaned outside. Care should be taken to prevent contamination of the household environment.
- Amphibians should not be kept in childcare facilities or kindergarten classrooms.