reptiles, as pets

Three percent of US households now contain a lizard, turtle, tortoise or snake. Reptiles in the home do not mix well with small children. Even ostensibly healthy reptiles can transmit Salmonella germs to humans and cause serious bacterial gastrintestinal disease in the very young, as well as in the elderly, pregnant women and the immunosuppressed (cancer chemotherapy patients as well as HIV positive persons). A Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study found that 60% of all reptiles in stores in the San Francisco Bay area were positive for Salmonella germs in the stools. Bottom line: keep reptiles out of households where there are infants under one year of age or persons with weakened immune systems. If you already have such a critter and can't part with it:

  • wash your hands after handling the pet or any of its excreta
  • never wash the pet's bowls in the kitchen sink - wash them outside or in the laundry sink
  • do not let reptiles wander through the house - the Salmonella they smear around can survive up to 30 months

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