Salmonella from Reptiles and Amphibians

Reptiles, Amphibians, and Germs

Reptiles such as turtles, lizards, and snakes and amphibians such as frogs can have Salmonella bacteria on their bodies, even when they are healthy and look clean. The germs also get on the animal's tank and other things the animal touches. Salmonella bacteria on your hands can spread to other people, surfaces, or infect you – if you don't wash up.

You Can Get Sick

Anyone can get a Salmonella infection, which can cause serious illness. Children are especially at risk of illness because they are less likely to wash their hands and have more frequent hand-to-mouth contact than adults.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection begin about one to three days after exposure and include diarrhea, fever, and stomach pain. Illness usually lasts four to seven days and most people will recover without medical treatment. However, in some people the symptoms may be so severe that medical treatment or a stay in the hospital is needed. Infants, children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to experience severe illness. Call your health care provider, if you or your child has a high fever, severe diarrhea, or other symptoms that concern you.

Don't Spread Salmonella

  • Wash hands with soap and water after touching reptiles and amphibians.
    It is the single most important thing you can do! When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based hand wipes and gel sanitizers may be used. Wash clothing or other surfaces the reptile or amphibian may have touched.
  • Reptiles and amphibians are not the best pets for young children.
    Keep reptiles and amphibians out of homes and child care settings with children under 5 years old. Young children are more at risk from severe illness from Salmonella.
  • Small turtles are not allowed to be sold in our state.
    Salmonella outbreaks involving small turtles and young children have occurred. Federal law bans the sale of turtles with a carapace length of less than 4 inches.
  • Supervise children when handling reptiles and amphibians.
    Don't allow children to nuzzle or kiss reptiles and amphibians, touch their mouths with their hands, or eat and drink while handling reptiles and amphibians.
  • Keep reptiles and amphibians away from family living spaces.
    Cage your reptile or amphibian in a habitat designed for it – don't let it roam around the home. Keep reptiles, amphibians, and their equipment out of the kitchen or any where food is prepared. Disinfect areas where feeders, water containers, and tanks are cleaned.

Educational Materials

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