Salmonella Outbreak Traced to Pet Bearded Dragons

July 17, 2014 in Aerowood Animal Hospital

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed that a salmonella outbreak has been traced to pet bearded dragons. Nearly 60% of those infected were children under five years old. The latest update from the CDC says 150 people in 35 states have been infected.

Here is a list of all the states who have confirmed cases: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois ,Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Native to Australia, bearded dragons have become very popular as pets in the United States. However, even healthy, clean reptiles may naturally contain salmonella bacteria in their systems. While it doesn’t make them sick, this can be the source of bad human salmonella infections.

Tips for protecting yourself and your family:

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water right after touching reptiles or anything in the area where they live and roam, including after handling reptile food; If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer until you are able to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Hand-washing is especially important before preparing, serving or eating food, drinks, or preparing baby bottles.
  • Adults should supervise young children when washing hands. Don’t let children put their fingers in their eyes or mouths after handling reptiles or exotic pets.
  • Do not let reptiles in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchen counters and table tops.
  • Do not bathe reptiles in the kitchen sink or in bathroom sinks or bathtubs. Reptiles should be bathed in a tub or bin that is dedicated for reptile use only.
  • Clean any equipment or materials used for caring for reptiles outside the house, such as tanks, feed or water containers, or items used for bathing.
  • Use soap or a disinfectant to thoroughly clean any surfaces that have been in contact with reptiles.
  • The CDC advises that children younger than 5 years old, older adults, or people with weakened immune systems should not handle or touch reptiles, or anything in the area where they live and roam.  Young children are at higher risk for serious illness because their immune systems are still developing and because they are more likely than others to put their fingers or other items into their mouths.

Bearded Dragon Salmonella

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