Pet Bearded Dragons Linked to Salmonella Outbreak


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The solution is easy: Wash your hands with soap and water.

Public health officials are investigating a multistate Salmonella outbreak linked to pet bearded dragon lizards that has sickened dozens of people.

A total of 44 people had been infected with the Salmonella Uganda strain in 25 states, according to a January 11 statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Illnesses occurred from Christmas Eve of 2020, to Dec. 2, 2021, and have been reported from coast to coast. No deaths have been attributed to the Salmonella outbreak, but 15 cases (41 percent) required hospitalization, the CDC said.

According to the CDC, the number of real instances of salmonella is likely higher, as some people don’t become ill as a result or they don’t always see a physician for their symptoms.

The mysterious question is why Salmonella is being detected now in what have always been reasonably common pet reptiles. Salmonella is a common part of a healthy digestive tract in reptiles, which can shed the bacteria in their feces. The CDC suggests that it’s possible all the implicated lizards came from a single source, regardless of where they were sold. Also, is there a common pet food or type of food which allows for ease of Salmonella creation in the reptiles’ guts?

The CDC says:

  • Wash your hands
    • Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching or feeding your bearded dragon and after touching or cleaning the area where it lives and roams.
    • Adults should make sure young children are washing their hands.
  • Play safely
    • Don’t kiss or snuggle your bearded dragon, and don’t eat or drink around it. This can spread Salmonella germs to your mouth and make you sick.
    • Keep your bearded dragon out of your kitchen and other areas where you eat, store, or prepare food.
  • Keep things clean
    • Clean your bearded dragon supplies outside the house, if possible. These supplies may include its feeders, toys, and food and water containers.
    • If you clean the supplies indoors, don’t clean them in the kitchen or other areas where you eat or prepare food. Use a laundry sink or bathtub, and thoroughly clean and disinfect the area right after.