A four-year survey of a strange salmonella outbreak in children found that the culprits appear to be pet African dwarf frogs, according to researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study released Monday in the journal Pediatrics is the first to link a nationwide outbreak of Salmonella typhimurium to an amphibian species.
Salmonella is typically a food-borne disease: Nontyphoidal salmonella sickens an estimated 1.2 million people per year, hospitalizing 23,000 and resulting in 450 deaths. But studies in the mid-1990s showed that about 74,000 salmonella infections came from exposure to reptiles and amphibians, such as turtles and frogs.
CDC researchers identified 376 cases from 44 states between January 2008 and December 2011. Of those with available information, 29% were hospitalized, and none of them died. When the researchers compared the salmonella outbreak cases to people who had contracted some other strain, they found that about 67% of outbreak cases were associated with frog exposure.