Kermit The Frog Can’t Be Happy About This
March 22, 2013

Kermit The Frog Can’t Be Happy About This

Every day parents across the world have children who want pets. These children ask and beg and bargain with their moms and dads for that cute little puppy, furry kitten, bowl of fish, and even frogs. Yes, many kids want to have pet frogs. And really, I totally understand that. Frogs are different, they are interesting. Plus, they are slimy and spotted and hop all funny like. They are the perfect pet…well, almost.

It seems that frogs have been found as a major culprit in Salmonella outbreaks, as redOrbit reported earlier this month. In fact, a recent study found that about 70 percent of those infected with a Salmonella outbreak strain were children under the age of 10 years old. Of those 70 percent, 114 were then interviewed and 60 percent of them reported being exposed to frogs, and the vast majority (80 percent to be exact) of these reported exposure specifically to the African dwarf frog.

Obviously, exposure to frogs, particularly the African dwarf frog, has a direct link to children having the bacterial outbreak. To understand the importance of this, one must understand what Salmonella is. We hear about it all of the time; we know it is bad to contract, but we still might need a better understanding of the bacterial infection.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Salmonellosis is an infection with bacteria called Salmonella. If infected with Salmonella, a person develops diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps about 12 to 72 hours after exposure. These can last from four to seven days, and though most people will recover without treatment, hospitalization is possible, especially in cases with severe diarrhea. Should this happen, those patients may have the Salmonella infection spread to the intestines, blood stream, and then to other body sites. Death is a possibility in these extreme infection cases unless the patient is promptly treated with antibiotics.

And who is most likely to suffer the severe illnesses from Salmonella infection: the elderly, infants, those with impaired immune systems, and children. It is for this reason that Shauna Mettee Zarecki, a public health advisor with the CDC and the lead author of the report on frogs and Salmonella, stated that, “Amphibians and reptiles should never be kept in homes with children less than 5 years old or with people who have immune deficiencies.”

But it is not just frogs that are the carriers of this potentially dangerous infection; turtles, snakes, and other reptiles and amphibians can carry Salmonella as well. However, the African dwarf frog is linked directly to the study’s findings of those infected with Salmonella, which makes it the main pet of focus.

As redOrbit ended in its report, the key to owning aquatic pets, like frogs, is keep the water clean and perform regular partial water changes. Additionally, common sense says that we should wash our hands after playing with any pet, be it amphibian, dog, or cat (or whatever else). It is important for our pets, but it is also important for our own health. This is especially true for children.

They are still building their immune systems, thus they are still seriously susceptible to disease and infection. What might be a few days sickness for a healthy adult could turn into a stay at the hospital for a child. This just means that we must be responsible in our pet ownership. If young children are in the house, heed the CDC’s advice and find a different pet.

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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