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Pet Reptiles Can Be Source of Salmonella Infection

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Posted by lbenton on October 03, 2002 at 09:57:49:

This is the full article. However I was under the impression that anything that anything that lived in its own feces could be a problem. Good cleaning habits, and thoroughly cooked chicken should take care of this.


NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Salmonella infection caused by reptiles is likely to increase in the US as more people adopt snakes, iguanas and other reptiles as pets, researchers predict.

Consequently, the bacterial infection, which can go unrecognized in some individuals, could pose a threat to people who receive blood transfusions, as described in an article in the October 3rd issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea. The infection is not dangerous for healthy people but can be fatal for chronically ill people, the elderly or very young children.

The report documents two patients who developed sepsis, a potentially fatal reaction to infection, from Salmonella. The infection was traced back to a donor who appeared healthy but was later found to have asymptomatic Salmonella infection from handling his pet boa constrictor.

A person does not have to actually handle a reptile in order to become infected, note Dr. James N. George from the University of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City and colleagues. It's possible to contract the infection just by living in the same house as an infected pet, the study authors explain.

In the US, up to 3% of households have a pet reptile, which suggests reptiles could account for up to 18% of the roughly 1.4 million cases of Salmonella infections that occur nationwide each year.

"These estimates suggest that reptile-associated salmonellosis could pose an unrecognized risk of contamination of platelet products from apparently healthy donors," the researchers write.

Doctors, therefore, will need to recognize that blood and blood product donors with no symptoms may be carrying Salmonella, they conclude.

SOURCE: The New England Journal of Medicine 2002;347:1075-1077

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