Salmonella is a bacterium that causes an infection
called salmonellosis in the intestines. Increasingly,
rare types have been identified in persons who have had no other apparent exposures other than contact
with pet reptiles.
While the diarrhea and fever caused
by Salmonella bacteria may be a self-limiting condition in healthy adults, salmonellosis in infants
and elderly persons often requires hospitalization and
can be a life-threatening condition.
Reptile owners can
get the disease when they forget to wash their hands
after handling a reptile or after cleaning its cage, and
can then spread the disease to others.
are allowed free access to the home, they may also contaminate bathtubs, sinks, carpets, etc.
How is reptile-associated salmonellosis
Although most often, people get salmonellosis from
eating undercooked meat and eggs, it can also be
spread through either direct or indirect contact with reptiles and their droppings.
Many reptiles are
carriers of Salmonella and show no symptoms, with
fecal carriage rates of up to 90%.
Thus far, attempts
to eliminate carriage of the bacteria in reptiles have
been unsuccessful and have lead to increased
Reptiles can become infected
Mother to eggs
Direct contact with
other infected reptiles
The eating of feces by hatchlings is common
for iguanas and other lizards, and this behavior contributes to the establishment of Salmonella as
normal intestinal flora.
How can reptile-associated salmonellosis be
Persons at increased risk for infection or serious
complications of salmonellosis should avoid contact with reptiles, such as:
Children aged under 5 years
Immunocompromised people such as those with
should be no reptiles kept in households where there
are children less than one year of age.
Reptiles should not be kept in child-care centers and
may not be appropriate pets in households in which
people at risk for infection reside.
Reptiles should not be allowed to crawl around on floors where
small children may be playing.
To prevent food contamination reptiles should be kept out of food-preparation areas.
In particular, kitchen sinks should not be used to bathe reptiles or
to wash reptile dishes, cages or aquariums.
eating or drinking near the reptile cage.
Pay scrupulous attention to the animal’s maintenance
Handlers should thoroughly wash
hands and disinfect surfaces exposed to the reptile.
Who will take my reptile if I don't want to keep it?
In Southern Nevada there are two organizations that accept reptile donations and work to place surrendered reptiles to permanent homes.