Pet rodents linked to multidrug-resistant salmonellosis outbreak

Handling pet rodents is a potential health risk, according to a report published in the May 6 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Public health practitioners are urged to consider pet rodents as a potential source of salmonellosis. During 2004, the Minnesota Department of Health’s Public Health Laboratory notified the CDC, which publishes the MMWR, about the isolation of multidrug-resistant Salmonella Typhimurium from ill hamsters from a Minnesota pet distributor. The report describes two of the first identified human cases associated with the outbreak, summarizes the multistate investigation of human Salmonella Typhimurium infections associated with exposure to rodents purchased at pet stores, and highlights methods for reducing Salmonella transmission from pet rodents to their owners. This is the first documented salmonellosis outbreak associated with pet rodents.

Veterinarians, breeders, and distributors are advised to consider submitting specimens to clinical laboratories for Salmonella isolation if substantial diarrhea-associated morbidity or mortality occurs among pet rodents intended for sale. Heightened infection-control practices by pet stores and distributors, including routine sanitizing of animal transport containers and cages, may reduce transmission. These strategies could reduce the need for antimicrobials to prevent disease in rodents.

July 5, 2005

Original web page at JAVMA