Salmonellosis and Pet Reptiles
Although many people think of salmonellosis as an illness caused by contaminated food, it can also be caught by handling a pet reptile or contact with its environment. Salmonella occurs naturally in many reptiles and does not usually make the animals sick. You cannot tell by looking at a lizard, snake, or a turtle if it is carrying Salmonella
Diarrhea is the most common symptom of Salmonella infection, but other symptoms such as fever, headache, nausea, and vomiting can also occur. Salmonellosis can be very serious and sometimes fatal for young children, the elderly, and persons with weak immune systems. Therefore, families with children aged 5 years or younger in the home should avoid keeping reptiles as pets. If you have a pet reptile make sure you wash your hands immediately after handling your pet. Do not kiss your pet reptile as the Salmonella
bacteria can easily enter and infect the body this way. Clean and disinfect any surfaces your pet reptile may have touched.