CDC Announces Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Pet Crested Geckos

June 3, 2015 in Aerowood Animal Hospital

CDC is collaborating with public health, veterinary, and agriculture officials in many states and the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) to investigate an outbreak of Salmonella Muenchen infections linked to contact with pet crested geckos purchased from multiple stores in different states. Crested geckos are popular pet lizards that come in a variety of colors.


As of May 13, 2015, a total of 20 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Muenchen have been reported from 16 states since January 1, 2014. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Florida (1), Iowa (1), Illinois (1), Indiana (1), Kansas (1), Massachusetts (1), Minnesota (1), Montana (1), New Hampshire (1), New York (1), Ohio (2), Pennsylvania (2), Tennessee (1), Virginia (1), Washington (2), and Wisconsin (2).


Dates that illnesses began range from January 1, 2014 to March 7, 2015. Ill persons range in age from younger than 1 year to 57 years, with a median age of 14 years. Three people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. Illnesses that occurred after April 21, 2015 might not be reported because that can take 2 to 4 weeks after someone becomes ill.


The pet industry is working closely with CDC to determine the source of the crested geckos linked to this outbreak in order to prevent additional illnesses. This outbreak is a reminder to follow simple steps to enjoy your pet and keep your family healthy. CDC does not recommend that pet owners get rid of their geckos. However, if pet owners decide to do so, they should contact a local reputable pet store or reptile rescue for a safe way to relinquish their pet. Do not let a pet gecko loose into the environment.


Advice to Pet Owners:


  • Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling reptiles and anything in the area where they live or roam, such as their habitats, food, or equipment. Adults should supervise young children when washing hands.
  • Reptiles are not recommended for children younger than five. This includes in home or school settings. Children younger than 5 years, people with weakened immune systems, and adults older than 65 years should not handle or touch reptiles or their environment because they are at a higher risk for serious illness and hospitalization from contact with Salmonella.
  • Keep your reptiles and their equipment out of your kitchen or anywhere in your home where food is prepared, served, or consumed. Never use food-preparation areas to clean reptile habitats or anything in their habitats. These items should be cleaned outside of your home. If you clean the habitat in the bathroom, thoroughly clean and disinfect the area as soon as you finish.
  • Don’t cross-contaminate! You don’t have to touch a reptile or amphibian to get sick from their germs. Be aware that any reptile food, such as frozen or live rodents; equipment; and materials, including tank water, can be contaminated with Salmonella and other germs.
  • Don’t kiss or snuggle with reptiles and amphibians because this can increase your risk of getting sick.
  • Persons who think they might have become ill from contact with reptiles should talk to a health care provider.

Gecko Salmonella Outbreak


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