Pet reptiles and Salmonella infection

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Pet bearded dragons and frozen feeder rodents being used to feed pet reptiles were among the sources of recent outbreaks of salmonellosis in humans in the United States. 

As of late May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had released three other reports of Salmonella outbreak investigations from 2014. The sources were live poultry; chicken products; and raw cashew cheese, a nondairy product made from raw cashews. 

While Salmonella outbreaks have many sources, the Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians states that carriage of Salmonella species appears to be highly prevalent in reptiles. The ARAV advises veterinarians to consider reptiles to be nonclinical carriers.

“Veterinarians treating reptiles play an important role in informing reptile-owning clients about salmonellosis and advising them on precautions for reducing the risk of acquiring Salmonella infection from reptiles,” according to an ARAV handout for veterinarians.

According to the ARAV, attempting to treat reptiles with antimicrobials to eliminate Salmonella species from their intestinal tracts has not been effective.

An ARAV handout for reptile owners provides a list of precautions to prevent the spread of Salmonella organisms from reptiles to humans. The ARAV handouts are available here.

The CDC warns reptile owners additionally to take precautions to prevent the spread of Salmonella organisms from live and frozen feeder rodents to humans. The agency offers a brochure on the subject of “Feeder Rodents, Reptiles, and Salmonella."