Salmonella, fish tank link found

Published on April 15, 2006
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Ornamental fish tanks are a reservoir for multidrug-resistant Salmonella Paratyphi B dT+, a cause of gastroenteritis in humans, especially young children, according to a study published this March in the Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Researchers in Australia identified home aquariums containing tropical fish as the most important source of the bacteria, although not necessarily the only source.

The number of human infections of multidrug-resistant Salmonella Paratyphi B dT+ has been on the rise worldwide since the late 1990s, wrote the researchers in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publication. The strain is resistant to streptomycin, spectinomycin, trimethoprim, and sulfonamides.

"The fact that ... as many as 12 million American ... families own domestic aquariums, together with the young age of most affected patients, indicate that multi-drug resistant S. Paratyphi B dT+ in home aquariums is a risk factor for Salmonella infection and thus becomes a public health issue," conclude the researchers. The findings emphasize the importance of good hand washing hygiene after handling tropical fish and aquarium water as well as the need to supervise young children around aquariums.

The March issue of the Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases is available at