There is an outbreak being spread to humans by a certain kind of popular pet that can sometimes be deadly.

Salmonella bacteria causes over 400 deaths a year in the United States and 1.3 million infections. And you’ll never guess where it’s coming from now.

The main symptoms of salmonella poisoning are fever, abdominal pain and diarrhea. For some it’s so severe that antibiotics are necessary. A couple hundred thousand people are hospitalized every year. The most unlucky among them never make it home.

It’s now being reported that in nine states there is a breakout of salmonella infections being caused not by food as we are used to hearing, but by a reptile many people keep as a pet.

Las Cruces State Fair
An eastern bearded dragon. (AP Photo file)

USA Today is reporting bearded dragons, a small, easy to maintain lizard that makes it a popular pet, are spreading salmonella infection to humans in 9 states so far. The worst state with the highest number of infections is right next door to New Jersey. It’s New York.

There have been 15 cases in all confirmed to have been caused by bearded dragons and most of them have been children under five years old. Also, more than 25% of the cases have required hospitalization.

The nine states involved starting with the state with the most cases:

New York








North Carolina

2 years ago there was a similar outbreak linked to bearded dragons which hit 25 states, sickened 44 and hospitalized 15.

What can you do?

First of all, the CDC recommends not having bearded dragons in a home with children under 5 or adults over 65 or where people with suppressed immune systems are present.

Frequent handwashing is a must. It’s also recommended you don’t allow your children to handle and hug their bearded dragon. This goes for you, too. Keep the bearded dragon’s supplies outside the house if possible, or have a dedicated area away from the kitchen where your own food is prepped.

Also, maybe just consider a dog.

The 10 most searched pets in the US

The website took a look at internet search trends to see what the most in-demand pets are in the US. The results may surprise you.

Gallery Credit: Bob Giaquinto

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.

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