Bearded Dragons Connected To Recent Salmonella Outbreak in 25 States

by Amanda Glover
(Photo by Yuttachai Kongprasert/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

While many are proud owners of cats and dogs, others prefer pets that lack fluffiness. Unfortunately, that could mean salmonella from bearded dragons.

A recent report from the CDC reported that between December 24, 2020, and December 2nd, 2021, 44 people across 25 states became infected with a variant of the bacteria called Salmonella Uganda.

Although no deaths have been reported, those who became sick were between the ages of 1 and 84. Eight of those infected were younger than five-years-old. Out of 37 people who provided their medical information, 15 of them had to go to the hospital.

Twenty-one of those infected revealed that they owned or had touched bearded dragons in the week before they got sick. The bearded dragons they came into contact with were obtained online or at pet stores.

Washington and Wisconsin announced four cases each of salmonella that the CDC credits to the animal. California, Oregon, and Rhode Island each reported three cases of the illness.

Bearded dragons can carry salmonella germs in their excretions. The CDC discussed in its report that a person can get sick from touching anything in the reptile’s environment. However, this includes its cage and feeding items.

The CDC also advises that bearded dragons are not suggested as household pets for children under the age of 5 or adults over 65. People with weak and compromised immune systems should also not have a bearded dragon. This is due to the fact that since these classes of people have a higher risk of getting sick from the germs the creatures carry.

Bearded Dragons: CDC Recommends Steps to Keep Owners Safe

  • “Don’t kiss or snuggle your animal, and don’t eat or drink around it. This can spread salmonella germs to your mouth and make you sick.”
  • “Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching or feeding your bearded dragon and after touching or cleaning the area where it lives and roams.”
  • “Keep your animal out of your kitchen and other areas where you eat, store, or prepare food.”
  • “Clean your bearded dragon supplies outside the house.”

If you or anyone you know experiences the following salmonella symptoms, contact your health provider ASAP:

  • Diarrhea and a fever higher than 102°F
  • Diarrhea for more than 3 days that is not improving
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Vomiting to the point that you cannot keep liquids down
  • Signs of dehydration, such as rarely peeing, dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up

Although most people recover without treatment within 4 to 7 days, it’s still important to do what’s necessary to avoid falling ill. We’re already in a COVID-19 pandemic, Outsiders. It doesn’t sound like fun to add salmonella on top of that.