Published On: Fri, Feb 28th, 2014

Scotland health officials warn of salmonella risk from ‘bearded dragons’

Public health experts in NHS Forth Valley, Scotland are asking people who care for ‘bearded dragons’ and other reptiles to be aware of a risk of salmonella. Over the past eight months there have been at least four cases of salmonella infection in Forth Valley associated with the ‘dragons’ which have become increasingly popular as pets, according to a recent NHS Forth Valley news release.

Image/Ltshears - Trisha M Shears

Image/Ltshears – Trisha M Shears

Many people don’t know that turtles, other pet reptiles (such as snakes and lizards), and amphibians (such as frogs and toads) can carry Salmonella bacteria and be a source of human infection.  Salmonella can survive on hands, clothing, cages,equipment, floors and other surfaces that an infected animal has touched, so a person can also be exposed to the bacteria by contact with these objects.

NHS Forth Valley Consultant in Public Health Medicine, Dr Henry Prempeh said: “Whilst salmonella is not usually life threatening in healthy individuals, immuno-compromised people, the very young and the very old can often have complications associated with this infection. I would appeal to people who look after ‘bearded dragons’ to take strict hygiene precautions.”

They advise any family who have a ‘bearded dragon’ and become ill with symptoms such as fever, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea, should consult their doctor and inform them that they keep a reptile.

According to a Wikipedia entry, Pogona is a genus of reptiles containing eight species, which are often known by the common name bearded dragons. The term “bearded dragon” is most commonly used to describe the central bearded dragon, (Pogona vitticeps).

Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

Health officials offer the following tips to prevent contracting salmonella from reptiles and amphibians (check out the health department publication for more information):

  •   Always supervise children to make sure that they do not put the reptile, or objects it has been in   contact with, near their mouths.
  •   Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately after handling the reptile, its cage or any other equipment such as soaking pools. Also wash hands after feeding.
  •   Keep a reptile out of rooms where food is prepared and eaten, and limit parts of the house where the reptile is allowed to roam freely.
  •   Dispose of waste water and droppings from a reptile down the toilet instead of a sink or bathtub.
  •   Don’t kiss reptiles

For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page and the Outbreak News This Week Radio Show page.



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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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