December 15, 2018

Salmonella Poisoning from Reptile Pets Most Often Affects Children

Salmonella poisoning from reptile pets most often affects children, according to a 2014 study. The study, which looked at 15 years of data from Minnesota, was published in the June issue of Zoonoses Public Health.

Salmonella BacteriaResearchers from the Acute Disease Investigation and Control division of the Minnesota Department of Health in St. Paul, MN looked at “reptile-associated salmonellosis” cases reported in Minnesota from 1996-2011. During this period,  about 290 such cases were reported.

The median age of case patients in these outbreaks was 11, with 31 percent under the age of 5 and 67 percent under the age of 20. Most of the patients were sick for about eight days. Twenty three percent of them required hospitalization.

The reptiles most commonly reported in association with the illnesses were lizards, snakes and turtles. Forty seven percent of the cases were associated with reptiles, 20 percent with snakes and 19 percent with turtles.

The finding of this study mirror statistics from nationwide outbreaks. In August, a Salmonella outbreak linked to pet bearded dragons (lizards native to Australia) ended after sickening 166 people in 36 states, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  At least 44 people were hospitalized.

Although the case patients in this outbreak ranged in age from younger than 1 year to 79 years old. The median age was 3, 59 percent of the case patients were children 5 and under.

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