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Published on May 7, 2015
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year Salmonella is estimated to cause one million illnesses in the United States, with 19,000 hospitalizations and 380 deaths. While many people associate Salmonella exposure risks with eating or drinking contaminated foods and beverages, people can also be exposed to it from pet reptiles and amphibians.
The CDC reports, “Reptiles and amphibians might have Salmonella germs on their bodies even when they appear healthy and clean. The germs can also get on cages, aquariums, terrariums, the water reptiles and amphibians live or swim in, and other containers that house them. Anything that reptiles and amphibians touch should be considered possibly contaminated with Salmonella. When you touch reptiles and amphibians, the germs can get on your hands or clothing.”
Young children are at increased risk for Salmonella infection 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.
The CDC provides the following tips for ways to reduce the risk of Salmonella infection from pet reptiles and amphibians.
• Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water immediately after touching a reptile or amphibian, or anything in the area where they live and roam. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available. Adults should always supervise hand washing for young children. • Keep reptiles and amphibians out of homes with children younger than 5 years old or people with weakened immune systems. • Habitats and their contents should be carefully cleaned outside of the home. Use disposable gloves when cleaning and do not dispose of water in sinks used for food preparation or for obtaining drinking water. • Wash any clothing the reptile or amphibian might have touched. • Use soap or a disinfectant to thoroughly clean any surfaces that have been in contact with reptiles or amphibians.
These are just a few things to consider if you have a pet reptile or amphibian or are thinking about getting one as a family pet. To learn more about this or other microbial pathogens, health and safety concerns, indoor air quality, occupational or environmental issues, please visit the websites shown below.