A Salmonella outbreak linked to crested geckos has sickened 20 people in 16 states, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Three people have been hospitalized. The pet lizards, which come in a variety of colors, were sold at a variety of stores.
Since January 2014, 20 people ranging in age from younger than 1 year to 57 years, have been diagnosed with Salmonella Muenchen infections from the geckos. By state, the case count is as follows: Florida (1), Iowa (1), Illinois (1), Indiana (1), Kansas (1), Massachusetts (1), Minnesota (1), Montana (1), New Hampshire (1), New York (1), Ohio (2), Pennsylvania (2), Tennessee (1), Virginia (1), Washington (2), and Wisconsin (2).
Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations conducted by local, state and public health officials identified contact with pet geckos as the likely source of this outbreak. The CDC is working with pet retailers to determine the source of the crested geckos linked to this outbreak.
Consumers who have pet geckos do not need to get rid of them. Rather, the CDC advises following these tips: Always wash your thoroughly after handling reptiles or anything in the area where they live including food or equipment. Adults should supervise young children when washing hands. Children younger than 5 should not handle reptiles at home or school nor should people with weakened immune systems or adults over 65 as they are at higher risk for serious illness and hospitalization from Salmonella germs. Do not bring reptiles or their equipment into the kitchen or anywhere in your home where food is prepared, served, or consumed. Clean reptile habitats outdoors or in the bathroom and then disinfect the area carefully.
Don’t kiss or snuggle with reptiles and amphibians.
Reputable pet stores have reptile rescue programs for those no longer interested in owning a gecko. Never release a pet gecko loose into the environment.