Reptile owners: beware.
Contact with bearded kites has been linked to a recent outbreak of salmonella, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
A recent CDC study reported that between December 24, 2020 and December 2, 2021, 44 people in 25 states became infected with a variant of the bacterium called Salmonella Uganda.
Although no deaths have occurred, those who became ill ranged in age from 1 to 84 years. Eight of them were under 5 years old. Fifteen people were admitted by the 37 people who provided their medical information.
Twenty-one of the infected people interviewed by health authorities revealed that they owned or had touched bearded dragons the week before they became ill. The animals they came in contact with had been purchased either online or at pet stores.
Health investigators collected stool samples from a bearded dragon from one of the affected people.
Washington and Wisconsin announced four cases of salmonella each, which the CDC credits to being associated with bearded dragons.
California, Oregon and Rhode Island each reported three cases of infection.
Bearded dragons can carry salmonella bacteria in their secretions. The CDC explained in its report that one can also get sick from touching anything in the reptile’s environment, including its cage and feeding equipment.
The CDC also recommends that the animals not be recommended as pets for children under 5 years of age or adults over 65 years of age. People with a weak and compromised immune system should also not have a bearded dragon, as these classes of people have a higher risk of getting sick from the bacteria that the animals carry.
The CDC recommended these practices to keep people safe:
- “Do not kiss or cuddle your bearded dragon, and do not eat or drink around it. This can spread salmonella bacteria to your mouth and make you sick. “
- “Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately 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 cook food.”
- “Clean your bearded dragon supplies outside the house.”