What Should You Do to
Families expecting a baby should remove pet
reptiles from the home and thoroughly clean
the home before the baby arrives.
Pet reptiles should not be allowed to roam
Pet store owners, veterinarians, and
freely throughout the home or living area. Pet
pediatricians should provide information to
reptiles should be kept in their cages/tanks.
owners and potential purchasers of reptiles
about the risk of getting sick from
Pet reptiles should be kept out of kitchens and
other food-preparation areas to prevent
contamination. Kitchen sinks should not be
used to bathe reptiles or to wash their dishes,
cages, or aquariums. If bathtubs are used for
these purposes, they should be cleaned
thoroughly and disinfected with bleach.
Acute Communicable Disease Control Unit (ACDC)
You should always wash your hands
Veterinary Public Health
thoroughly with soap and water after handling
reptiles or reptile cages/tanks. Disinfect the
cage/tank weekly with bleach.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Reptiles and Salmonella
Children often forget to wash their hands.
Make sure your children wash their hands
after petting animals or touching the cage.
ACDC: Salmonellosis and Pet Reptiles
Do not kiss reptiles.
People at high risk of getting sick from
salmonellosis should avoid contact with
Veterinary Public Health
Handle With Care!
Pet reptiles should not be kept in preschool
or child care centers.
Protect Your Family's Health
Reptiles Carry Salmonella
If the reptile is taken out of it’s cage, the bacteria can
Did you know...
get on furniture, counters, floors, carpets, and your
hands or clothes when you handle or feed your reptile.
Many people are choosing reptiles as pets.
That reptiles are not the only pets that can carry
The bacteria are too small to see without a
Salmonella bacteria? Dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits,
Lizards, turtles and snakes are all reptiles.
birds and other pets can spread the disease too.
However, Salmonella is much more common in
If you put your hand to your
People like reptiles because people think they need
reptiles than in other types of pets.
mouth or the bacteria gets
less attention than dogs and cats. However, they
into your food or water, you
may not be appropriate pets for all families.
Each year, thousands of reptiles are sold as pets in
might get sick.
Southern California. Some reptiles, such as turtles
Lizards, turtles, and
with a shell length of less than four inches, are illegal
The disease that people get
especially iguanas, are
to sell. This is
is called salmonellosis
very popular pets. You
because they are
which can make some
may know someone who
commonly given to
people very sick.
has an iguana.
small children who
are more likely to
If you have a pet reptile
People at High Risk
handle them and
or are considering one…
not wash their
Children under five years of age
Reptiles can be found in many places that your child
Many reptiles carry germs or bacteria called
Salmonella. Nine out of 10 reptiles may have the
People taking high-dose steroids
Schools, teachers, babysitters, relatives, friends and
People with cancer, AIDS, diabetes, etc.
neighbors may have a reptile.
You cannot tell by looking at a reptile if it has
Many children get salmonellosis after contact with
Salmonella. Most reptiles look healthy even if they
Many pet stores have
reptiles. Salmonellosis in children causes fever and
have Salmonella. That’s because Salmonella may
iguanas, turtles or other
severe diarrhea, sometimes with blood in the stool.
be part of a reptile’s normal bacteria.
reptiles for sale.
People at high risk may also get blood or brain
Salmonella bacteria are passed in reptile droppings.
…Ask your children…
As a result, the bacteria can spread around the
Most adults have moderate fever and diarrhea but
reptile’s cage, its food or water dish or anywhere on
You may be surprised to
may have no symptoms at all.
learn all the places your
the reptile’s body.
children have come in
Fortunately, salmonellosis rarely causes death.
contact with reptiles!