Reptiles of all types can
transmit Salmonella to their handlers, but the dramatic increase in
iguana sales during the past few years has made them the most noticeable
Signs and Symptoms
Salmonella is a bacterium
that may not cause any obvious signs of disease in the pet reptile but
can cause diarrhea, fever, and dehydration in infected people.
Salmonellosis (infection with Salmonella) is likely to be life
threatening in very young children, the elderly, and immune-compromised
persons (patients with AIDS, those receiving chemotherapy for cancer,
Most cases of
salmonellosis in this country occur when people eat contaminated,
undercooked meat or eggs. However, pet owners can get the disease
by accidentally ingesting fecal material from their infected pets.
This is most likely to occur if pet owners forget to wash their hands
after handling their pets or their pet's cage, food bowls, etc.
Cleaning reptile cages and food bowls where human food is prepared and
stored can also spread Salmonella to humans.
Taking some common sense
precautions can help you avoid becoming infected with Salmonella or
spreading it to your family members.
Always wash your hands
thoroughly with an antibacterial soap and warm water after handling
any reptiles or their cages and cage accessories.
Never clean cages in
the kitchen or anywhere you prepare food for human consumption.
Do not house reptiles
in the kitchen, dining room, or eating or food-preparation areas.
cages and cage accessories frequently.
Young children, the
elderly, and immune-compromised individuals should avoid contact with
reptiles. Children should only handle reptiles with adult
The Centers for Disease
Control in Atlanta are considering recommending a ban on the importation
and sales of iguanas. It is imperative that all responsible
reptile owners take it upon themselves to prevent Salmonella infections
in their families. Share this information with friends and family
members who own reptiles. If the rate of Salmonella infection
among reptile owners continues to increase, our rights to keep these
animals may be seriously threatened.
The above is a reprint of an
article written by Valarie V. Tynes, D.V.M. Reprint permission
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