‘Do not kiss or snuggle’: CDC warns about Salmonella outbreak connected to bearded dragons

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning bearded dragon owners to be extra careful when they handle their small, scaly pets.

The reptiles have been linked to a Salmonella outbreak in multiple states, including Washington. The CDC said as of Tuesday, 44 people have gotten sick and 15 have been hospitalized across the U.S. Four of the people who got sick were in Washington.

Health experts said people can get sick from touching their bearded dragon or anything in their environment and then touching their mouth. Bearded dragons can carry Salmonella germs in their droppings, even if they look healthy and clean. The CDC said those germs can spread to their bodies and where they live.

Here’s what the CDC said people should do to be safe around their pet:

  • Wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching or feeding your bearded dragon and after touching or cleaning the area where it lives and roams.
  • Don’t kiss or snuggle your bearded dragon, and don’t eat or drink around it. This can spread Salmonella germs to your mouth and make you sick.
  • Keep your bearded dragon out of your kitchen and other areas where you eat, store, or prepare food.
  • Clean your bearded dragon supplies outside the house, if possible. These supplies may include its feeders, toys, and food and water containers. If you clean the supplies indoors, don’t clean them in the kitchen or other areas where you eat or prepare food. Use a laundry sink or bathtub, and thoroughly clean and disinfect the area right after.

You can read more about the Salmonella outbreak on the CDC’s website.