Bearded Dragons: Salmonella Poisoning Traced to Exotic Pets

Friday, 25 Apr 2014 06:09 PM

By Ken Mandel

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Bearded dragons have been added to the growing list of pets that can cause salmonella poisoning, The Associated Press reports.

An uncommon form of salmonella bacteria has affected 132 people in 31 states in the period from Feb. 21, 2012, through April 21, 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fifty-eight percent of those cases were children 5 years old and younger.

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Twenty-one of the 31 people who answered questionnaires about their illnesses revealed that they'd handled bearded dragons. Health investigators feel this is the first U.S. salmonella outbreak that can be traced to this kind of pet.

"We are confident bearded dragons are the source of the outbreak" the CDC's Casey Barton Behravesh told the AP.

Frogs, toads, turtles, snakes, hedgehogs, chicks, and ducklings can also carry the salmonella virus.

The CDC stressed the importance of washing hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately after "handling reptiles or anything in the area where they live and roam." They should also be kept out of kitchens, sinks, and bathtubs, and away from small children.

Bearded dragons are native to Australia, and can grow to about 20 inches long. Some typically sell in pet stores for $70 to $100.

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