Usually when you hear about Salmonella, you think about food poisoning.. but salmonellosis is also a zoonotic disease – one spread between animals and humans. Salmonella (which gets its name from the Daniel Salmon head of the USDA in 1885) is a bacteria that causes fever, diarrhea, and stomach cramps, usually within 3 days of eating or getting the germs into their mouth. For the most part, people get better and just need to rest and drink lots of fluids.
Besides contaminated food, salmonellosis has been associated with handling snakes, salamanders, lizards, frogs, turtles, chicks, ducklings, hamsters, mice, fish, hedgehogs… pretty much anything a young child would like to have has a pet.
Three of five current multistate salmonellosis clusters/outbreaks with 295 cases are related to such pets. Arizona has at least one case in each of these clusters.
When a pet is infected with Salmonella, the germ gets on their bodies, on cages, in the water, on the soil, and everything else it touches. When kids kiss, cuddle and hold these pets, or clean their cage or aquarium, they can get the germs in their mouth, nose and on hands. Children younger than 5 and those with a poor immune system are at highest risk of catching the disease. Hand washing after touching, grooming, or cleaning cage/aquarium/terrarium is the best way to prevent this infection. More information is available on the CDC Healthy Pets Healthy People website.