VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Pet frogs might be cute but they also might make you sick from salmonella, U.S. health officials warn.
Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say pet African dwarf frogs harboring salmonella have sickened at least 113 people in 31 states, most of them children, between April 2009 and this past March, ScienceNews.org reported.
"This is the first multi-state outbreak of salmonella associated with frogs," says Shauna Mettee, an epidemiologist at the CDC in Atlanta who presented the findings Friday at a meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America in Vancouver, Canada.
CDC investigators' interest was aroused when doctors began reporting a cluster of cases of the typhimurium subspecies of salmonella in 2009.
Eventually, 113 cases of the infection were identified, and the median age of the patients was 5. About one-third needed hospitalization following symptoms ranging from cramping to severe and even bloody diarrhea.
There were no fatalities, the CDC said.
Researchers traced the infected amphibians to a single frog factory in California that breeds hundreds of thousands of African dwarf frogs for sale, Pediatrics Supersite reported.
Health authorities are working with the facility's owner to limit salmonella among the animals.
Amphibians and reptiles can carry salmonella bacteria without appearing sick, Patricia Griffin, chief of the enteric diseases epidemiology branch at CDC, says.
Pet turtles, popular in the 1970s, were found to expose people to salmonella, and small turtles have since been banned as pets, but some street sales continue, Mettee says.