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Children's Health

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Frogs That Spread Salmonella Are Being Sold Again

Sales Resume for African Dwarf Frogs That Are Linked to Salmonella Outbreak

How Frogs Spread Salmonella

Fritz says the frog carries salmonella and other bacteria in its GI tract and does not have to come in contact with people to spread infection.

"The frogs are probably shedding salmonella into the aquarium environment in which they live and people are becoming infected by contacting the water or things in the aquarium," Fritz tells WebMD. "Our concern is not so much that the frogs are infected, we sort of expect that from the nature of them being frogs. But there is this potential for people not to be aware of the frogs' bacteria."

He says it is "perfectly legal" for the company to sell the frogs.

The California Department of Public Health put out an alert on April 26 warning that "certain pet aquatic frogs may carry bacteria that cause illness in people and should be withheld from sale to the public."

The statement says frogs from Blue Lobster Farms "are likely to be infected, have already caused multiple illnesses and hospitalizations and can contaminate tanks holding them."

Risks to Pregnant Women

The CDC says salmonella infection can cause "serious health risks" to pregnant women as well as young children, the elderly, or people with weak immune systems, including cancer patients.

CDC says salmonella infections associated with the dwarf frogs have been reported in 42 states since April 2009. Those infected range in age from less than a year old to 76.

The CDC says about 70% of patients are younger than 10, and that the median age was 5. It says 30% of patients were hospitalized but that no deaths have been reported.

The CDC says it recommends vigorous hand washing after contact with the frogs.

Fritz says parents need to know that amphibians and reptiles also can spread salmonella.

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