I would have thought this would fall under the realm of common sense, but as the saying goes: Common sense is like deodorant, the people that need it the most don’t use it.
A recent report out of Scotland is warning people not to kiss their pet reptiles, in response to four people who were hospitalized with salmonellosis after kissing bearded dragons, and other reptiles.
Reptile-associated salmonellosis is a major concern, and while there are ways to make reptile ownership very safe for most people, some risk will always remain. Certain behaviours will increase that risk. A large percentage of healthy reptiles have Salmonella in their intestinal tracts, and anything that’s in the intestinal tract ends up in the animal’s habitat and on its skin. Kissing reptiles is an obvious way to be exposed to this bacterium, which can cause serious disease in some situations.
Among the report’s recommendations are:
- Families that own a bearded dragon or similar reptiles are advised to consult their doctor if they become ill with symptoms of fever, vomiting, abdominal pain and/or diarrhoea.
- They should also inform their GP that they keep a reptile. Children are particularly at risk because they like to stroke and handle pets.
- NHS Forth Valley have also issued a guide for pet owners to reduce the risk of catching Salmonella from lizards, which includes supervising children to make sure they do not put the animal, or objects it has been in contact with, near their mouths.
- It also recommended washing hands with soap and water immediately after handling a reptile, its cage or any other equipment, keeping a reptile out of rooms where food it prepared or eaten, and disposing of droppings and waste water down a toilet, rather than in a sink or bath.
Just common sense.
More information about reptiles and Salmonella can be found on the Worms & Germs Resources – Pets page.