Reptile owners: beware.
Contact with bearded dragons has been linked to a recent outbreak of salmonella, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A recent CDC investigation reported that between Dec. 24, 2020, and Dec. 2, 2021, 44 people across 25 states became infected with a variant of the bacteria called Salmonella Uganda.
While no deaths have occurred, those who became sick ranged in ages from 1 to 84 years old. Eight of those were under the age of 5 years old. Fifteen people were hospitalized of the 37 persons who provided their medical information.
Twenty-one of the infected people whom health officials interviewed revealed that they owned or had touched bearded dragons in the week before they got ill. The animals they came in contact with had been procured either online or at pet stores.
Health investigators collected feces samples from a bearded dragon of one of the affected people.
Washington and Wisconsin announced four cases each of salmonella that the CDC credits to be connected to bearded dragons.
California, Oregon and Rhode Island each reported three cases of infection.
Bearded dragons can carry salmonella germs in their excretions. The CDC explained in its report that one can get sick from touching anything in the reptile’s environment, as well, including its cage and feeding equipment.
The CDC also advises that the animals are not recommended as household pets for children under the age of 5 or adults over 65. People with weak and compromised immune systems should also not have a bearded dragon, since these classes of people have a higher risk of falling ill from the germs the animals carry.
The CDC recommended these practices to keep people safe:
- “Don’t kiss or snuggle your bearded dragon, and don’t eat or drink around it. This can spread salmonella germs to your mouth and make you sick.”
- “Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching or feeding your bearded dragon and after touching or cleaning the area where it lives and roams.”
- “Keep your bearded dragon out of your kitchen and other areas where you eat, store, or prepare food.”
- “Clean your bearded dragon supplies outside the house.”