Reptiles and Salmonella
Salmonellosis is an infection with Salmonella bacteria. Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea,
fever, vomiting, and abdominal cramps 6 to 72 hours after infection. In most cases, the illness usually lasts 3 to
7 days-most affected persons recover without treatment. However, in some persons the diarrhea may be so
severe that the patient becomes dangerously dehydrated and must be taken to a hospital.
The type of salmonella usually associated with infections in humans is called Non-Typhoidal Salmonella. It is
usually contracted by ingesting raw or undercooked eggs, or from animals such as:
Poultry and cattle, if the meat is prepared incorrectly or becomes infected with the bacteria somehow.
Infected eggs and milk, as well as egg products, when not prepared, handled, or refrigerated correctly.
Reptiles such as turtles, lizards, and snakes, as they can carry the bacteria on their skin by walking through
Who Should Avoid Contact With Reptiles?
The following categories of people should avoid all contact, direct or indirect, with any reptile as the risks of
serious, symptomatic infection with Salmonella is greatly increased
Infants and children less than 5 years of age
Anyone with HIV/AIDS or other immune defiency disorders
Anyone who has had transplant surgery and is on anti-rejection therapy
Anyone who is on any drug which suppresses/alters immune function including: steroids, cancer chemotherapy, biological
response modifiers and others
Anyone receiving radiation treatment
Women who are pregnant due to risk to the fetus
Elderly, frail or people with poor nutritional status
If in doubt about any condition or treatment you or a household member is undergoing consult your physician
as to its effect on immune status. If in doubt about any disease or disorder you or a household member may
have with respect to its effect on immune status also discuss this with your physician. Consult your physician if
you or any family member develops diarrhea which lasts for more than a day.
What To Do To Avoid Becoming Infected Or Acting As A Carrier:
1.After handling any reptile be sure and wash hands with soap/hot water.
2.Wash thoroughly for at least 30 seconds; an antibacterial soap is preferable.
3.Washing with water only is ineffective in eliminating Salmonella.
4.Keep reptiles out of kitchens and away from any surfaces where human food is stored, prepared or served.
5.Do not use kitchen sinks to clean reptile accessories or caging materials.
6.Do not touch food for human consumption after handling any reptile or their accessories.
7.Do not touch dishes, pots, pans or other utensils used for human food after touching any reptile or reptile
8.Keep reptile enclosures, water/food bowls and surfaces as clean as possible.
9.Do not permit unsupervised handling of reptiles by children under 12 years old.
10.Teach children to wash hands thoroughly after handling any reptile.
11.Reptiles should not be kept in any child-care facility where toddlers and pre-schoolers are cared for.
12.Reptiles kept in classrooms should not be handled unless appropriate handwashing and clean-up facilities
are available and made accessible to children and staff.
13.Disinfectant lotions, pump sprays or similar products should be carried whenever reptiles are going to be
handled in the field, at swap meets or other locations where hand washing facilities may be absent.
Routes Of Transmission And Other Sources Of Salmonellosis
1.The most common route of infection is through oral ingestion.
2.Infection can occur through an open cut, sore or wound into the bloodstream.
3.Infection can occur through splashing of contaminated material into the eyes.
4.Infection can occur through inhalation of sprayed contaminated solutions/aerosols.
5.Animals and animal products are the most common sources of infection.
6.Improperly cooked meats, especially poultry and chopped beef/pork/turkey.
7.Recontamination of cooked meats through contact with raw meats/fluids.
8.Contamination of foods by salmonella contaminated hands of servers/preparers.
9.Contact with, ingestion or inhalation of soil contaminated with animal feces.
10.Raw milk (especially among farm families) and contaminated pasteurized milk.
11.Fish meal, bone meal and meat meal; fertilizers and animal feeds