CDC Warns of Salmonella Danger Posed by Pet Bearded Dragons

Most cases have occurred in children younger than 5 years, who are especially susceptible to the disease
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MONDAY, June 17, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- In a health advisory issued Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned of a Salmonella outbreak linked to pet bearded dragons, noting that there have been reports of 15 illnesses across nine states.

"Four people have been hospitalized," the agency said, although no deaths linked to the scaly pets have been reported. The danger is most acute for young children, with 60 percent of the new cases reported in children younger than 5 years.

The very young and the elderly may be more vulnerable to these infections. For that reason, "bearded dragons are not recommended as pets for children younger than 5, adults aged 65 or older, and people with weakened immune systems," the CDC said.

Bearded dragons "can carry Salmonella germs in their droppings even if they look healthy and clean," the agency said. Infections typically occur when a person handles or touches one of the lizards and then moves their hands to their mouth or food.

Salmonella can be a serious illness. According to the CDC, "most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps six hours to six days after being exposed to the bacteria." Illnesses typically last four to seven days. Most people will recover without treatment, but in some cases, illness is so severe that it requires hospital care.

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