Salmonella detected at frog breeder in 217-case outbreak

Apr 8, 2011 (CIDRAP News) – The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported yesterday that 217 people in 41 states since 2009 have become ill with Salmonella from contact with African dwarf water frogs.

The agency has traced the outbreak to a single California breeder first identified in January 2010, after the outbreak had sickened 85 people in 31 states. As part of that outbreak investigation, local public health officials visited the breeder in late March 2011 and collected environmental samples.

Tests at CDC labs confirmed Salmonella enterica serotype Typhimurium in those samples, and further tests are being conducted to see if it is the outbreak strain.

In yesterday's update, the CDC said that illnesses began April 9, 2009, and have continued through last month. Patients' ages range from younger than 1 year to 73 years, with 71% of patients younger than 10 and a median age of 5 years. A third of patients have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported.

About two thirds of case-patients reported contact with frogs in the week before they became sick. Of those who could recall frog species, 84% said they had contact with African dwarf frogs. The median time from acquiring a frog to illness onset was 15 days (range, 7 to 240 days).

Washington state reported the most cases (23), followed by Utah (18), California (17), Pennsylvania (14), and Virginia (11). The only unaffected states are Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, North Dakota, South Carolina, Rhode Island, and Wyoming.

The agency warns that amphibians such as frogs and reptiles such as turtles—and their living environments—can harbor the bacterium and lead to salmonellosis, which is characterized by fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.

Pastry-linked cases rise to 65
In other Salmonella news, cases attributed to Salmonella in zeppole and other Italian pastries from DeFusco's Bakery in Johnston, R.I., rose to 66, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDH) said today. In addition, the Providence Journal reported today that a second case-patient has died.

The RIDH said that, of the 66 cases, 1 was in Massachusetts and the rest were in Rhode Island. The department's previous update, on Mar 30, listed 47 cases. Thirty-nine cases have been confirmed as salmonellosis by laboratory testing, and 28 required hospitalization. Four patients remain hospitalized, according to today's update.

In addition, a man in his 90s died yesterday after testing positive for Salmonella infection, the Journal reported. He first experienced symptoms Mar 25 and was hospitalized from Mar 28 until his death. He had eaten a product from DeFusco's Bakery and had underlying health conditions, according to the story.

The previous death, in a man in his 80s, had occurred Mar 23, according to the Associated Press.

Map courtesy of the CDC.

See also:

Apr 7 CDC update

Jan 7, 2010, CDC report from earlier in the outbreak

Apr 8 RIDH update

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