The Department of Natural Resources’ Fisheries Division is advising the public to be very cautious if handling reptiles and amphibians, as they can be carriers of Salmonella bacteria. Whenever possible, wild reptiles and amphibians should be left in the wild unless they are being harvested according to state regulations.
“As the weather warms and spring turns into summer, people are reminded that if they handle any reptiles or amphibians, they should wash their hands thoroughly before moving on to their next activity,” said DNR fisheries biologist Tom Goniea. “Reptiles and amphibians have the potential to carry Salmonella on their bodies and transmit the bacteria regardless of how clean or healthy the wildlife appear. Furthermore, animals may carry the germs whether they are pets, at a school, in a petting zoo, or in the wild.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that each year, Salmonella causes an estimated 1.2 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations and 450 deaths in the U.S. Common symptoms include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps (within 12 to 72 hours after infection) that last four to seven days. Although most people recover without treatment, the severity of the illness can lead to hospitalization.
A new U.S. Food and Drug Administration brochure explains the connection between reptiles and amphibians and Salmonella and offers some precautions people can take to limit their risk of getting sick. The emphasis of the brochure is on small turtles, because children are more likely to come into contact with them and then touch their mouths or eyes. However, the suggested precautions can be applied to all reptiles and amphibians.
For more information and to download the brochure, visit http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/ResourcesforYou/AnimalHealthLiteracy/ucm247899.htm.