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CDC: Salmonella outbreak tied to water frogs continues to spread

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Apr 15, 2011
By dvm360.com staff
Atlanta — More than 200 people have now been infected with a strain of Salmonella Typhimurium associated with African dwarf frogs, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

CDC began tracking the outbreak in April 2009. A single water frog breeder in California was identified in 2010 as the source of African dwarf frogs associated with the human infections. Local health department staff revisited the breeder in March 2011 to take updated samples, and CDC says Salmonella bacteria was found once again. Additional testing is being conducted to determine if the Salmonella strain found at the breeding facility is the same strain present in the current outbreak strain.

A total of 217 people have been identified as victims of the outbreak over the last two years, according to CDC. The most cases have been reported in Washington (23), Utah (18), California (17), Pennsylvania (14), Colorado (12), Virginia (11) and Arizona (10). The only states where no cases have been reported are Maine, Delaware, South Carolina, Arkansas, Iowa and Wyoming.

No deaths have been reported in association with the outbreak, says CDC, but 71 percent of patients are younger than 10 years old. The median age of infection is 5, and 51 percent of all patients recorded in the outbreak are female. Among those infected, 34 percent have been hospitalized, says CDC.

CDC is working with state and local health departments and have discovered that 64 percent of those infected reported contact with water frogs in the week before their illness began; 84 percent were able to identify the frogs they came into contact with as African water frogs.

Symptoms of infection in this outbreak include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramping. Onset occurs between one and 15 days after contact, and the illness typically lasts four to seven days, says CDC.

Veterinarians are being asked to educate clients who own water frogs about proper hand-washing and habitat cleaning techniques to prevent infection.