NewsDesk @bactiman63

CDC and public health officials in several states report investigating two multistate outbreaks of Salmonella infections with serotypes Vitkin and IIIb 61:z52:z53 linked to pet bearded dragons.

Image by Mylene2401 from Pixabay

As of October 12, 2022, a total of 23 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Vitkin (10 people) and Salmonella IIIb 61:z52:z53 (13 people) have been reported from 15 states–California, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Eight people required hospitalization for their illness. No deaths have been recorded.

Sick people range in age from less than 1 to 75 years, with a median age of 2 years old, and 10 (43%) are children under the age of 1 year old.

CDC says the true number of sick people in an outbreak is likely much higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses.

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Health officials offer the following advise to stay healthy around your pet bearded dragon:

  • 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.
    • Always wash your hands right after handling your bearded dragon and especially before holding or feeding a baby or a young child.
    • Make sure children younger than 5 years old avoid contact with your bearded dragon and older children wash their hands after touching or feeding a bearded dragon.
  • 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.
    • Have a dedicated enclosure for your bearded dragon. Don’t allow bearded dragons to roam in the same spaces where your baby or young children crawl and play.
    • 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 must 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.

If you are thinking of getting a pet bearded dragon:

  • Pick the right pet for your family
    • Bearded dragons and other reptiles are not recommended for children younger than 5, adults aged 65 and older, and people with weakened immune systems. These people are more likely to get a serious illness from germs that reptiles can carry.