Epidemiology and Infection

Gastrointestinal infections

An outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium DT191a associated with reptile feeder mice

K. S. HARKERa1 c1, C. LANEa1, E. DE PINNAa1 and G. K. ADAKa1

a1 Gastrointestinal, Emerging and Zoonotic Infections Department, Health Protection Agency, London, UK


In December 2008 an increase of tetracycline-resistant Salmonella Typhimurium definitive phage-type 191a (DT191a) was identified in England and Wales by the reference laboratory. This was confirmed to have a phage-typing pattern that had not previously been seen. Strong statistical evidence for an association between illness and keeping reptiles was demonstrated by a matched case-case study (mOR 16·82, 95% CI 2·78–∞). Questionnaires revealed an association with frozen reptile feeder mice, and mice representing 80% of the UK supply lines were tested for the presence of Salmonella. DT191a was found in three pools of sampled mice, which were traced back to a single supplier in the USA. Imports from this supplier were halted, and tighter regulations are now in place. A leaflet detailing how to prevent contracting Salmonella from pet reptiles has been published as well as updated advice on the Health Protection Agency's website.

(Accepted September 07 2010)

(Online publication October 14 2010)


c1 Author for correspondence: Ms. K. S. Harker, Gastrointestinal, Emerging and Zoonotic Infections, Health Protection Agency's Centre for Infections, 61 Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5EQ, UK. (Email: katy.harker@hpa.org.uk)