In 2009, a four-month-old baby girl was taken to an Australian hospital emergency department after contracting salmonella through indirect contact with an eastern bearded dragon.
Testing revealed the girl had been infected with a type of salmonella known as rubislaw. A subsequent article published in the Medical Journal of Australia revealed that between nine and 19 cases of rubislaw had been detected in Australians between 2000 and 2009.
Reptile expert Robert Johnson said many pet owners were unaware of the risks posed by reptiles and needed to practice good hygiene to eliminate their chances of infection.
Dr Johnson said the risk of salmonella poisoning should not deter people from owning reptiles.
”They are great little pets. They don’t create a noise and you can keep them in reasonably small areas. But you have to maintain good hygiene.”
The risks of reptiles as pets will be on the agenda at the Australian Veterinary Association’s annual conference in Adelaide this week.