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Bearded Dragon Tied to Salmonella Outbreak in 31 States

Update Date: Apr 25, 2014 09:27 AM EDT
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The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified the most likely cause of a Salmonella outbreak that has affected 31 states. According to the agency, the bearded dragon, which is often kept as a pet, has been linked to 132 illnesses with the majority of them being in children aged five and younger.

The CDC was first notified of an outbreak by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services back in Jan. 22. The state has been dealing with a couple of Salmonella cases dating back to 2012. After the cases were reported, the CDC noted that the outbreak appeared to have spread to other states. Researchers were unsure what was behind the illnesses until one epidemiologist decided to test different samples of bacteria taken from the home of one of the ill patients. The researchers, Emilio DeBess from Oregon, collected samples from a pair of bearded dragons and discovered a rare Cotham strain. After identifying this strain, health officials from other states started to test for Cotham as well.

The federal health officials were able to tie all of the cases together from the 31 states. The states included: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin

The cases occurred from Feb 20, 2012 through to April 1, 2014. There have been no deaths. However, 42 percent of the cases need hospitalization. The ages of the patients range from less than one-years-old to 79-years-old. The officials found that some of the cases were antibiotic resistant.

Bearded dragons are pet reptiles that are native to Australia. They can come in a variety of colors and can make a good pet. However, due to these health concerns, officials are reminding people to wash their hands thoroughly after handling these lizards. Very young and small children should not touch the bearded dragons at all.

The CDC report can be found here.

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