Pet frogs connected with hundreds of illnesses

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Hundreds of people in at least 41 states have been sickened by Salmonella enterica serotype Typhimurium in connection with contact with pet water frogs and their habitats since April 2009, federal authorities said.

Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that, by April 21, the agency had received reports involving 218 illnesses, about two-thirds of them connected with contact with frogs during the week preceding the onset of illness. A California water frog breeder has been identified as the source of African dwarf frogs associated with the infections. Environmental samples taken from the breeder's facilities in March 2011 tested positive for the presence of the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium.

A report from earlier in April indicated about 71 percent of people sickened by the strain were younger than 10 years of age, and about 30 percent of patients were hospitalized. No deaths had been attributed to the outbreak strain.

The agency is encouraging veterinarians to educate clients about the risk of Salmonella infection connected with water frogs and their habitats, and to educate clients on properly cleaning the habitats.