Reptiles can make great pets—they’re quiet and they don’t leave fur on the furniture and floors. However, whether wild-caught or store-bought, reptiles often carry salmonella. These bacteria can cause diarrhea, and young children are at particular risk, according to a study in the September 1 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, now available online.
Diet, susceptibility, and the lower amount of bacteria needed to infect a child may all contribute to the likelihood of children less than five years old contracting salmonella from handling lizards, snakes and turtles. Young children are also more likely than their older peers to develop serious—and possibly fatal—complications from the infection.
Michigan researchers found that nearly 12 percent of salmonellosis cases in children up to age five were reptile-associated, according to reports received by the Michigan Department of Community Health between January 2001 and June 2003. Due to concerns about salmonella infections, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that reptiles not be kept in homes with people whose immune systems are impaired or homes with children under age five.
Jeff Minerd | EurekAlert!
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