Bearded Dragons “Cause” Salmonella Outbreak

Exotic pets are becoming more commonplace in households across the country. More parents are thinking nothing of buying creatures like snakes, lizards, frogs, turtles, and other creatures for their kids. Bearded dragons in particular are becoming increasingly popular with families who want something other than a cat or a dog as a pet. However, these lizards are also coming under scrutiny because of their ability to pass salmonella poisoning to their owners. Before parents buy a bearded dragon for their kids, they would do well to realize the dangers believed to come with owning these creatures.

Indeed, the Center for Disease Control now speculates that as many as 132 people in the U.S. have become infected with salmonella directly because of their owning a bearded dragon lizard. These lizards carry salmonella on their bodies, which is then passed to their owners when people forget to wash their hands after handling their reptiles. They touch their hands to their faces or handle food without cleaning their hands first, thus introducing the illness to their bodies. Within days, if not hours, they become violently ill with vomiting, diarrhea, and extreme fatigue.

Even more, out of the 132 people infected across the country, the CDC reports that 58 percent of them were children under the age of five. Because children that young have fragile immune systems, this infection can wreak significant havoc on their bodies, weakening them to the point where they cannot fight off other diseases should they encounter illnesses like the chicken pox, the flu or even the common cold virus. This danger may be the furthest from parents’ minds as they pick out a reptilian pet for their kids. However, the CDC urges families to take precautions if they insist on keeping these reptiles in their homes.

The government agency urges parents to restrict their children from handling their bearded dragons. Ideally, children under the age of five should not pick up or even pet these creatures at all. Anyone in the household who does pick up or handles a bearded dragon should remember to wash his or her hands immediately afterward. They should avoid touching their faces or eating anything until they have cleaned their hands. This precaution also should be taken when people clean the cages of their bearded dragons. If they follow these recommendations, families can keep salmonella at bay.

Bearded dragons can be good pets if people appreciate the health risk that comes with owning them. Salmonella continues to be associated with these reptiles.