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Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2014 Jun;14(6):414-21. doi: 10.1089/vbz.2013.1506. Epub 2014 May 27.

Multistate outbreak of Salmonella enterica serotype enteritidis infection associated with pet guinea pigs.

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1 Epidemic Intelligence Service; Scientific Education and Professional Development Program Office; Office of Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , Atlanta, Georgia .


Salmonella causes about one million illnesses annually in the United States. Although most infections result from foodborne exposures, animal contact is an important mode of transmission. We investigated a case of Salmonella enterica serotype Enteritidis (SE) sternal osteomyelitis in a previously healthy child who cared for two recently deceased guinea pigs (GPs). A case was defined as SE pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) XbaI pattern JEGX01.0021, BlnI pattern JEGA26.0002 (outbreak strain) infection occurring during 2010 in a patient who reported GP exposure. To locate outbreak strain isolates, PulseNet and the US Department of Agriculture National Veterinary Service Laboratories (NVSL) databases were queried. Outbreak strain isolates underwent multilocus variable-number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA). Traceback and environmental investigations were conducted at homes, stores, and breeder or broker facilities. We detected 10 cases among residents of eight states and four NVSL GP outbreak strain isolates. One patient was hospitalized; none died. The median patient age was 9.5 (range, 1-61) years. Among 10 patients, two purchased GPs at independent stores, and three purchased GPs at different national retail chain (chain A) store locations; three were chain A employees and two reported GP exposures of unknown characterization. MLVA revealed four related patterns. Tracebacks identified four distributors and 92 sources supplying GPs to chain A, including one breeder potentially supplying GPs to all case-associated chain A stores. All environmental samples were Salmonella culture-negative. A definitive SE-contaminated environmental source was not identified. Because GPs can harbor Salmonella, consumers and pet industry personnel should be educated regarding risks.


Guinea pigs; Salmonella enteritidis; Salmonellosis

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