NEW YORK Bearded dragons have joined the list of pets that can give you salmonella poisoning. In the past two years, 132 people in 31 states have been infected with a rare form of salmonella bacteria. About two dozen of the sick people said they’d handled bearded dragons — a popular lizard native to Australia.
Bearded dragons are popular pet lizards. They are native to Australia and are found in a variety of colors, including gray, red and yellow. The pet industry is working with public health officials to determine the source of the bearded dragons linked to this outbreak, according to the CDC.
Researchers collected salmonella samples from three patients and found one sample was resistant to ceftriaxone, an antibiotic used to treat serious salmonella infections. The researchers are continuing to test samples from more patients for antibiotic resistance.
The CDC’s investigation started when the Wisconsin Department of Health notified the agency last January of a cluster ofSalmonella cotham infections with a high number of patients reporting contact with pet lizards. Since 2012, there have been 12 infections with Salmonella Cotham in Wisconsin, and 10 patients reported contact with pet bearded dragons.
So far, the CDC has interviewed 31 patients, and 27 of them have reported contact with reptiles before becoming ill. Twenty-one patients specifically reported contact with bearded dragons.
To avoid catching a disease, the CDC recommends washing hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water right after touching reptiles, or anything in the area where they live.