Public Health Agency of Canada

Public Health Agency of Canada

September 30, 2010 19:24 ET

Illness Linked to Frozen Rodents Used as pet Food

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 30, 2010) - The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) advises owners of pet reptiles such as snakes and lizards to take precautions when feeding them frozen mice, rats and chicks, as these products may be contaminated with Salmonella. There have been seven reported cases of human illness in Canada between April-August 2010 that are due to a specific strain of Salmonella that has been linked to frozen rodents. Salmonella bacteria are easily spread to others if proper precautions are not taken.

Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after feeding or handling or cleaning up after pet reptiles. Clean surfaces that come into contact with the reptiles or their food.

Other forms of pet food have been known to carry Salmonella bacteria. PHAC advises all pet owners to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after feeding or handling or cleaning up after their pets.

Symptoms of a Salmonella infection, called salmonellosis, typically start 6 to 72 hours after exposure to a contaminated product. Symptoms include

  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chills
  • Headache

These symptoms usually last four to seven days. In healthy people, salmonellosis often clears up without treatment. People who experience severe symptoms, or who have underlying medical conditions, should contact their health care providers if they suspect they have a Salmonella infection.

If you choose to dispose of frozen reptile food products, PHAC recommends that you seal them in a plastic bag and place them in a covered garbage can. Wash your hands with soap and water after handling the products.

PHAC is investigating with its provincial and territorial counterparts whether this outbreak of illness is associated with a similar illness in the United States and whether the product implicated in the U.S. outbreak was distributed in Canada. More information is available at http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/frozenrodents/index.html.

Contact Information

  • Public Health Agency of Canada
    Media Relations
    613-941-8189