Notes From the Field: Salmonella!
Via the Center for Disease Control’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a new reservoir for Salmonella infection. From August 2011 to February 2012, 46 cases of salmonellosis were reported across 22 states. The median age of the patients was 11 years old, and the most significant risk factor found after interviewing the majority of the patients was exposure to pet reptiles or amphibians. Followup analysis by the CDC identified the outbreak strain of Salmonella in samples of frozen mice from a pet store that two of the patients had gone to, however poor record keeping by pet store owners and breeders made it difficult to track the source further. Two mouse breeders did receive mice from suppliers implicated in an earlier outbreak of Salmonella.
Usually in BIO230, we warn students about the Great Turtle Menace when speaking about Salmonella infections acquired in the home, as these pets have long been implicated as a source of the disease. Apparently, we will now need to amend that warning, and extend it to carnivorous reptiles, and the mice we feed them. The CDC warns individuals to be aware of the risk of salmonellosis from pets and live/frozen feeder animals, and to exercise safe handling at all times. The CDC also offers a set of bullet points as well:
- Always wash your hands with soap and water after handling live rodents and reptiles, as well as after handling frozen rodents used as food, or anything where frozen rodents were prepared.
- Keep frozen rodents away from areas where food and drink are stored, prepared, served, or consumed.
- Avoid using microwave ovens or kitchen utensils used for human food to thaw frozen rodents used for reptile feed. Any kitchen surfaces that come in contact with frozen rodents should be disinfected afterwards.
- Do not let children younger than 5 years of age or people with weakened immune systems handle frozen rodents.
- Use soap or a disinfectant to thoroughly clean any surfaces that have been in contact with frozen rodents. Children older than 5 years old should perform this task only under adult supervision.
- Recalled frozen rodents used as food for reptiles may still be in stores and in consumers’ homes, including in the freezer. Any recalled product should be thrown away to preventSalmonella infections in humans, pets, or other animals.
- And finally, one added by me: Do not eat the feeder mice yourself without cooking, as that would be a surefire way of making yourself sick.