The Texas Department of State Health Services has proposed a series of changes to warnings that are already required of retailers that sell reptiles. The warnings are focused on prevention of salmonellosis, and retailers must post signs and provide written warnings to anyone buying a reptile about the risk of salmonellosis from reptiles.

Signs must include the following recommendations (new or revised text is underlined):

  • People should always wash their hands with soap and running water after handing reptiles or reptile cages or after contact wtih reptile feces or the water from reptile containers or aquariums. Wash your hands before you touch your mouth.
  • Persons at risk for infection or severe complications of salmonellosis, such as children younger than 5 years of age, the elderly, and persons whose immune systems have been weakened by pregnancy, disease or certain medical treatments should avoid contact with reptiles and any items that have been in contact with reptiles.
  • Reptiles should be kept out of households or facilities that include children younger than 5 years of age, the elderly, persons whose immune systems have been weakened by pregnancy or disease, or certain medical treatments. Families expecting a new children should remove any reptile from the home before the infant arrives.
  • Reptiles should not be allowed to roam freely throughout the home or living area. Wash and disinfect surfaces that the reptile or its cage has contacted.
  • Reptiles should be kept out of kitchens or other areas where food and drink is prepared. Kitchen sinks should not be used to bathe reptiles or to wash their dishes, cages or aquariums. If bathtubs are used for these purposes, they should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected with bleach. Wear disposable gloves when washing the dishes, cages or aquariums.
  • The sign must also contain a statement that reptiles may carry Salmonella bacteria, which can make people sick, but reptiles may not appear to be sick.

Image: Texas Horned Lizard, Phrynosoma cornutum (photo credit: Shawn Billerman, click for source)