Reptiles are a source of salmonella infection, and more than 90 percent of reptiles carry salmonella bacteria. The disease is transmitted by contact with the animal’s fecal matter, which can occur by touching the animal, according to the CDC.
"You have to remember that there are many different types of salmonella," said Greg Chapman, a local veterinarian. "Some are pathogenic to humans."
An estimated 74,000 cases of the 1.2 million cases of salmonella infection each year in the United States are caused by contact with reptiles and amphibians, according to a CDC report. Typically, these infections cause several days of severe diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. In some cases, however, serious or even life-threatening complications develop.
The CDC estimates about 600 people die each year from salmonellosis, the bacterial disease caused by the germ salmonella, and about 40 of those deaths are linked to reptiles.