Congratulations, after researching this post, I’m officially a nerd.
Reptiles include turtles, iguanas, snakes, geckos, toads and chameleons.
Once again salmonella is the culprit here.
The stats were all over the place with this one, but it seems that 85% of all turtles, 77% of lizards, and 92% of snakes carry salmonella. It doesn’t cause any illness in reptiles, but it can make you pretty “ew”.
For Salmonella to spread from reptiles to humans, the bacteria must be ingested. This most often occurs when humans place their hands on the reptile or objects that have been in contact with the stool of reptiles; then they place their hands in their mouths, or on objects or food they put in their mouths, and can become infected.
I didn’t find a whole heck of a lot on pregnant women being at danger but it was a different story when it came to children under five. Yikes. I’m surprised there aren’t “Ban the Turtle” signs in Baby Gap. Salmonella is usually not serious in healthy adults, but children, the elderly, and people with weak immune systems like those with HIV and AIDS or who are undergoing chemotherapy are more likely to develop severe infections.
That said, salmonella is everywhere. I think they pick on reptiles more than, let’s say raw eggs, because the probability of one being a carrier is much higher and is, therefore, considered a greater risk. The Center for Disease Control recommends washing your hands after handling a reptile, not letting it wander around your home freely (that would be so awesome – rogue iguana) and not allowing them into the kitchen or on surfaces used for food preparation – gee, ya think? Just when I was going to let the boa constrictor empty the dishwasher.
Man, the way some of the sites got hysterical about it, I think I’m going to carry around a little baggie of turtle feces in my purse as protection from potential attackers. I’ll scream “back off, I’ve got turtle shit and I’m not afraid to use it!”. I figure the attacker will either be scared and run away or just figure I’m crazy and not worth killing. Either way, win win.
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