Pet Dragons Linked to Salmonella Cases That Sickened Dozens of Children

“I have college students that will come to class with their bearded dragon on their shoulder, which is probably not the most hygienic thing,” stated Brian Todd, a conservationist on the University of California, Davis, who makes a speciality of reptiles and amphibians and was not concerned with the examine. “After you’ve handled one, you need to wash your hands, especially before preparing food or picking up your child.”

Bearded dragons aren’t the one supply of reptilian-borne outbreaks. Last yr, greater than two dozen folks in 11 states had been sickened by salmonella linked to small turtles. That outbreak led to the hospitalization of 9 folks and prompted a warning from the C.D.C. in opposition to permitting youngsters beneath 5 to have turtles as pets.

(The sale of turtles lower than 4 inches has been banned since 1975.)

The examine printed this week within the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases used genetic whole-genome sequencing to decide the origin of salmonella infections that sickened two infants in Ontario, Canada. Researchers decided that the sicknesses had been attributable to salmonella vitkin, a uncommon pressure that had not been detected in Canada or the United States earlier than 2021.

Dr. Katherine Paphitis, an epidemiologist at Public Health Ontario who was the lead creator on the examine, stated the invention prompted health officers in each international locations to be part of forces to decide its origins.

Dr. Paphitis stated that there are 2,500 serotypes of salmonella however that solely about 100 sicken folks, and only a handful are answerable for a majority of human infections. Older folks, infants and people with weakened immune programs are particularly weak to critical sickness, she stated.

Sequencing of the micro organism allowed researchers at Public Health Ontario to link the 2 infants who had been sickened. Each household, they found, had bearded dragons. With genetic fingerprints in hand, Canadian officers reached out to their C.D.C. counterparts, who then recognized a dozen instances of salmonella vitkin within the United States. Health officers in each international locations warned pet outlets and pet homeowners concerning the dangers. “Don’t kiss or snuggle your bearded dragon,” the C.D.C. stated, “and don’t eat or drink around it.”

The response to the outbreak showcased collaboration between the health companies, Dr. Paphitis stated, and likewise helped unfold important details about bearded dragons that appeared to elude many homeowners.

“If you are letting them free roam,” she stated, “maybe don’t let them on to your kitchen countertop.”

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