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Animal Attraction: FDA warns of Salmonella risk from frozen rodents fed to reptiles

by Stacy Fox

khou.com

Posted on August 11, 2010 at 6:16 AM

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning U.S. and international customers who may have purchased frozen mice from Biggers and Callaham LLC, doing business as MiceDirect, that these products, which are used as food for reptiles, have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.
 
Because children, the elderly, and individuals with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk for salmonellosis, they should avoid handling either frozen rodents used as reptile food or reptiles. Children 5 years and under should not handle either frozen rodents used as reptile food or reptiles themselves.

After handling either frozen rodents used as reptile food or the reptiles, individuals should thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water and use a disinfectant to thoroughly clean any surfaces that have been in contact with frozen rodents.
 
The FDA is actively investigating positive Salmonella findings in frozen mice and environmental samples taken at the company’s Cleveland, Ga. plant. After it was informed of the positive samples, Biggers and Callaham voluntarily recalled all frozen mice, rats and chicks purchased between May 2009 and July 23, 2010. The frozen reptile feed was distributed in all states, except Hawaii, through pet stores and by mail order and direct delivery.

On Aug. 2, 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 34 human illnesses in 17 states were associated with handling frozen rodents used for reptile food sourced from Biggers and Callaham. In general, snakes and other reptiles can harbor many strains of Salmonella for several years, but still appear healthy.

Frozen reptile feed was shipped in plastic bags with the following product codes M-SP100, M-P100, M-PF100, M-F100, M-H100, M-W50, M-A50, M-JA25, R-P100, R-F50, R-PUP50, R-W50, R-S50, R-M20, R-L10,R-J5, R-C5, R-M3 followed by E9, F9, G9, H9, I9, J9, K9, L9 or A10, B10, C10, D10, E10, F10, G10 and whole frozen chicks in 25 count bags.
 
The FDA advises customers with the contaminated product to place it in a sealed container in the trash so that no children, pets, or other animals, such as wildlife, may be able to reach it.
 
Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. People infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Most people recover from Salmonella infections within four to seven days without treatment. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses, such as arterial infections (infected aneurysms), infection of the lining of the heart, and arthritis.

Source:  U.S. Food and Drug Administration

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