Because of its large size, the African great cane rat (Thryonomys swinderianus) is valued for food and has become a popular meat in western Africa. A survey was conducted to determine the occurrence of salmonellae in cane rats. Ten strains of Salmonella sp. were isolated from eight of 25 (32%) cane rats. Salmonella ajiobo was isolated from the spleen and intestines of three cane rats; S. agama was obtained from the spleen, liver and intestines of three animals; and S. poona was isolated from the spleen and liver of two cane rats. The occurrence of salmonellae in T. swinderianus is a potential public health hazard. Humans may become exposed to infection by consumption of inadequately cooked infected cane rat meat, or by eating vegetables, sugar cane and fruits contaminated with excretions of carrier cane rats. Incidents of human salmonellosis attributable to cane rat meat have not yet been reported; however, all three serotypes isolated from the cane rats have also been isolated from stools of patients suffering from gastroenteritis in Nigeria.
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Vol. 26 • No. 1