Outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness due to Salmonella enterica serotype Typhimurium were reported in 3 states in 1999 and 2000 in employees, clients, and patients from 3 companion animal clinics and 1 animal shelter. More than 45 persons and companion animals became ill. It is estimated that Salmonella species infect 1.4 million people annually in the United States, causing about 15,000 hospitalizations and 500 deaths. In these 4 places, multidrug-resistant Salmonella was isolated from humans and animals with and without diarrhea as well as from the daycare classmates of one of the infected persons. In some of the cases, environmental sampling (including the vacuum-cleaner bag from the house of infected cats) identified the organisms. For each of the outbreaks, the veterinary facility was the only common exposure for infected people. These outbreaks illustrate the hazards of zoonotic transmission of disease in the occupational setting. Recommendations for infection prevention and control have been formulated. These recommendations include wearing gloves while cleaning cages and treating animals and, when finished, immediately removing the gloves and washing the hands. Eating and drinking should be prohibited in animal treatment or holding areas.

COMMENTARY: Transmission of Salmonella can occur from many sources, including meat, dairy products, pet treats, pets, and other animals. The importance of following guidelines to reduce the risk for transmission of Salmonella and other zoonotic diseases needs to be emphasized.

Multidrug-resistant Salmonella typhimurium in four animal facilities. Wright JG, Tengelsen LA, Smith KE, et al. EMERG INFECT DIS 11:1235-1241, 2005.