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Officials in North Bay warn people not to kiss their lizards

Apparently it's a problem
bearded dragon lizard

Like the flu, frequent hand washing is the answer to an increase in salmonella sickness being reported by local pet owners.

"There has been an increase in reported salmonella sickness with owners of reptiles and amphibians in the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit area," says a news release. "Salmonella germs are naturally found in the digestive tract of some animals, including lizards and amphibians."

The germs are shed in their droppings which spreads onto their bodies and the environment around them.

“When not careful, handling pet lizards and amphibians can cause serious illness in humans,” says Teresina Palangio, public health inspector at the Health Unit. “We encourage all pet owners, no matter the animal, to take precautions to protect their health and that of those around them.”

The Health Unit suggest the following tips to avoid salmonella sickness:

  • Wash your hands after handling pets, their equipment and food. Good hand washing will go a long way to making sure you don’t get sick.
  • Keep cages or tanks out of children’s bedrooms and unsupervised areas.
  • Prevent lizards and amphibians from roaming free through the household, especially in the kitchen or areas where foods are prepared and eaten.
  • Avoid eating or drinking while handling lizards and amphibians.
  • Resist kissing, nuzzling or snuggling lizards and amphibians.
  • Supervise children when they are caring for these pets.
  • Wash your pet and their equipment outside, or in a laundry tub or large bucket. Keep the germs out of your kitchen sink and bathtub.

Salmonella infection is more dangerous when it occurs in infants, children, the elderly or people with weak immune systems. Symptoms include a sudden onset of headache , fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and sometimes vomiting.

The bacteria can also be transmitted from person-to-person through unwashed hands.

Reptiles and amphibians that appear healthy and clean can contaminate the water, tanks and aquariums.

Salmonella germs have been found on pet equipment, even when not in use, and can still cause illness months later.

For more information, call the Health Unit at 705-474-1400 or 1-800-563-2808, or learn more at