Pet Frogs May Spread Salmonella: Precautions for Parents

Children under age 5 at risk
dwarf frog in tank

Does your child have a pet frog? If you do, and you have young children, you may want to reconsider –especially if you have an African dwarf frog, which has been linked to a salmonella outbreak in 44 states. This frog lives in water that can be contaminated with salmonella if the frog is a carrier.

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American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) researchers traced the source of this latest round of infections to a breeding facility in California. The researchers say the infections primarily occurred in children younger than 10 years old, but Camille Sabella, MD, infectious disease specialist at Cleveland Clinic, says children under age 5 are at higher risk for serious salmonella infections.

How to decrease infection risk

Experts say lizards and amphibians are not the best pets when you have children less than 5 years of age living in the household.

Dr. Sabella recommends the following 3 tips to decrease risk of infection:

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  1. Wash your hands. Do this after handling pet frogs, lizards or turtles – but especially after handling the African dwarf frog.
  2. Limit cleaning of the tank to adults. Adults should clean the tank outdoors while wearing protective gloves. Keep kids away because even those who do not have direct contact with the frogs, but who are somehow in contact with the water of the frog’s habitat, can still get the bacteria.
  3. Don’t clean the tank in the kitchen or bathroom. Dr. Sabella says, “Things like washing out the water tank in the child’s sink or the kitchen sink, and then preparing food afterwards, is risky. If the bacteria are around from the habitat, you can certainly get salmonella indirectly.

Pets are great for kids, but frogs may bring more than you bargained for.

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