The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in collaboration with public health, veterinary, and agriculture officials in many states and the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) are investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Cotham infections linked to contact with pet bearded dragons purchased from multiple stores in different states, according to a CDC release today. Bearded dragons are popular pet lizards, native to Australia, that come in a variety of colors.

Multistate Salmonella Cotham outbreak map. Image/CDC
Multistate Salmonella Cotham outbreak map. Image/CDC

As of April 21, 2014, a total of 132 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Cotham have been reported from 31 states since February 21, 2012.

The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Arizona (4), California (21), Colorado (2), Florida (3), Georgia (1), Idaho (3), Illinois (6), Kansas (6), Kentucky (4), Maryland (3), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (5), Minnesota (3), Missouri (7), Nebraska (1), Nevada (3), New Hampshire (1), New Jersey (3), New York (10), North Carolina (2), Ohio (1), Oregon (2), Pennsylvania (5), South Carolina (1), South Dakota (1), Tennessee (5), Texas (6), Utah (3), Virginia (3), Washington (4), and Wisconsin (12).

Six out ten people infected are children 5 years of age or younger. 4 out of 10 individuals required hospitalization for their illness. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page.

Salmonella Cotham is a rare serotype. Searching historical Salmonella databases, CDC determined that Salmonella Cotham represents only 0.01% of all human isolates in the United States since 1963. Before this outbreak, typically less than 25 Salmonella Cotham infections were reported to PulseNet annually. 

The CDC reminds the public of the importance of thorough handwashing with soap and water right after touching reptiles or anything in the area where they live and roam.