Omnivore - Salmonella outbreak traced to Georgia

Millions of infected agents recalled

Image Unbelievably, the latest outbreak of salmonella — 400 people in Britain and a few dozen in the U.S. — has been traced to a company in Cleveland, Ga. Their product isn't the usual chicken or dairy products. It's frozen mice to feed pet snakes and other reptiles. The company, MiceDirect, has recalled millions of the frozen treats.

The New York Times reported on the outbreak Thursday and its story, besides sounding a warning, provides a peek into the world of snake lovers:

Steve Gilfillan, a deputy sheriff in Council Bluffs, Iowa, keeps “a couple hundred” garter snakes in several neat rows of roomy enclosures in his basement. The snakes, he said, are like part of the family, which leads to a certain familiarity.

“As far as precautions, I don’t know,” said Mr. Gilfillan, 51, who said his three children helped feed and care for his pets. “Snakes got to eat and snakes got to poop and you got to clean it up. It’s just the nature of keeping them.”

Mr. Gilfillan said he bought 10,500 mice from MiceDirect early this year, delivered to his door. He keeps them in the freezer compartment of a basement refrigerator. He said he had not heard about the recall until a reporter called him on Wednesday.

“I never thought that a mouse could have salmonella,” he said. “It just never entered my mind.”

So take heed. Wash your hands after feeding your menagerie of snakes.

(Photo of "pinkies" for reptile snacks courtesy of MiceDirect.)