There has been an increase in reported salmonella sickness with owners of reptiles and amphibians in the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit area. Salmonella germs are naturally found in the digestive tract of some animals, including lizards and amphibians. It is shed in their droppings which spreads the germs onto their bodies and the environment around them.

Image/PIRO4D via pixabay
Image/PIRO4D via pixabay

“When not careful, handling pet lizards and amphibians can cause serious illness in humans,” says Teresina Palangio, public health inspector at the Health Unit. “We encourage all pet owners, no matter the animal, to take precautions to protect their health and that of those around them.”

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The Health Unit suggest the following tips to avoid salmonella sickness:

  • Wash your hands after handling pets, their equipment and food. Good handwashing will go a long way to making sure you don’t get sick.
  • Keep cages or tanks out of children’s bedrooms and unsupervised areas.
  • Prevent lizards and amphibians from roaming free through the household, especially in the kitchen or areas where foods are prepared and eaten.
  • Avoid eating or drinking while handling lizards and amphibians.
  • Resist kissing, nuzzling or snuggling lizards and amphibians.
  • Supervise children when they are caring for these pets.
  • Wash your pet and their equipment outside, or in a laundry tub or large bucket. Keep the germs out of your kitchen sink and bathtub.

Symptoms of Salmonella illness include diarrhea, upset stomach, fever, and occasionally vomiting. Symptoms typically last 4 to 7 days, and most people recover on their own. Anyone who suspects they became ill should contact their health care provider. For some people, the diarrhea may become so severe that they require hospitalization. Symptoms typically appear 6-72 hours after eating contaminated food and will typically last for 4 to 7 days without treatment. However, in severe cases, the symptoms may last longer.