Melissa Kaplan's
Herp Care Collection
Last update January 1, 2014

Herps and Zoonoses

And Related Human Health Concerns


Information Clusters
Search This Site

Green Iguanas

Herp Care & Keeping:
Captivity Issues
Emergency Preparedness
General Herpetology
Pet Trade
For Kids
Parents & Teachers
Using the Internet

Help Support This Site
About Melissa Kaplan

Cover Image: Iguanas for Dummies.  Book written by Melissa Kaplan.
by Melissa Kaplan

Advance Care Directives
Chronic Neuroimmune Diseases
Lyme Disease & Coinfections



Zoonotic diseases are those that can be passed from animal to animal--thus from your pets to you. Salmonella, toxoplasmosis, Lyme disease, rabies, and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, better known as "mad cow disease") are some of the most publicized zoonoses.

Knowing that there is the possibility of becoming infected with a zoonoses is half the battle. Being smart about the steps you take to reduce the risk to you, your families, students and others you--and your pets--come into contact with is the other half. The articles here will help you find out what you need to know to best take care of, and make the best decisions, for your pets--and humans.

Please note that I am using the term pets rather than reptiles or herps for a reason: all animals, including dogs, cats, parrots, rabbits, etc., may carry one or more zoonotic organism. While the following articles were written and selected with herp keepers in mind, the precautions and concerns extend to all animals kept as pets or encountered when interacting with animals of all types in all situations.

Pet owners and all parents, regardless of the types of pets they keep or their children come into contact with, must educate themselves. Physicians are not adequately trained to recognize, let alone treat, the hundreds of most common zoonotic diseases.


"Today, there are more than 100 cases of reptile-associated salmonellosis reported annually in Los Angeles County. Human salmonellosis associated with lizards was not seen ten years ago. This increase in salmonellosis is due to the massive influx of green iguanas being imported from Central America. Iguana farms and wholesalers often use antibiotics to prevent disease in the lizards, thus increasing antibiotic resistant strains of salmonella. Iguanas are flown to the southern United States and distributed to wholesalers. To prevent human outbreaks and associated health care costs, regulations regarding these reptiles may be warranted, similar to the current regulation of pet turtles. (Title 17, Section 2612.1)." County of Los Angeles (California) Department of Public Health, Veterinary Public Health's Overview of Zoonoses.

"The population attributable fraction for reptile or amphibian contact was 6% for all sporadic Salmonella infections and 11% among persons <21 years old. These data suggest that reptile and amphibian exposure is associated with approximately 74,000 Salmonella infections annually in the United States." Reptiles, amphibians, and human Salmonella infection: a population-based, case-control study. Clin Infect Dis. 2004 Apr 15;38 Suppl 3:S253-61


More on Reptile-Related Salmonella
Recent additions:
Salmonella Infection (eMedicine)

Salmonella: Then and Now

Aerobic bacterial oral flora of garter snakes
If you touch a turtle, wash your hands!
Interview with the CDC: Dr. Jonathan Mirmen
Isolation of Salmonella strains from reptile faeces and comparison of different culture media
Kids, Reptiles & Salmonella
Outbreak of salmonellosis in a zoologic collection of lorikeets and lories
Pet Snakes May be Source of Salmonella
Prevalence and antimicrobial resistance of Salmonella spp. in pet mammals, reptiles, fish aquarium water, and birds in Trinidad
Public Health Implications of Fecal Shedding of Salmonella in Iguanas
Reptile Associated Salmonellosis - Selected States 1996-1998
Reptile-Associated Salmonellosis - Selected States 1998-2002
Reptile-Related Salmonellosis
Salmonella and Other Zoonoses: The Basics
Salmonella and Reptiles: Veterinary Recommendations
Salmonella Citations in the Veterinary and Medical Literature
Salmonella's Main Drug Hits Resistant Strain In U.S.
States Hatch Warning Labels for Reptiles
Pros and cons of long-term probiotics use in green iguanas
The Fright of the Iguana: Pet Reptiles Pose Risk of Salmonella Infection for Their Owners


Other Sources of Salmonella
Alfalfa Sprouts: Health Food or Health Risk?
Antibiotic-resistant Salmonella in milk
Humans May Contract Salmonella From Pet Treats
Household Contamination with Salmonella enterica
Produce Handling and Processing Practices
Salmonella Infection (eMedicine)

Sprout Safety: FDA Warns High-Risk Groups: Don't Eat Alfalfa Sprouts
Salmonella and Vegetables
Pet Treats a Source of Salmonella


Other Zoonoses
Animal-borne Epidemics Out of Control: Threatening the Nation's Health
Anthroponoses, Zoonoses, and Sapronoses
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & Other Autoimmune Disease in Animals
Dinner, Pets and Plagues: Wildlife Trade Leading to Ecodisaster
Exotic Animals Give Exotic Diseases to People and Domestic Animals
Infectious threats from exotic pets: dermatological implications
Potential Zoonoses in Exotic Pets
Produce Handling and Processing Practices
Zoonoses in house pets other than dogs, cats and birds.
Zoonotic Diseases: Animals In The Classroom (PDF)
Zoonotic Diseases - Are Reptiles the Real Threat to Human Health?
Zoonoses From Reptiles and Their Parasites

General Zoonoses Information
Confronting Zoonoses, Linking Human and Veterinary Medicine
Health Pets, Healthy People (CDC)
Parasitic Pathways: Animal Diseases (CDC)
Pets Pose Health Hazards, Experts Warn
Pets and Pet Health - MedlinePlus Collection
Veterinarians Safeguard Children's Health
Wildlife, Exotic Pets, and Emerging Zoonoses
Zoonoses: Animals Can Make You Sick


Human Health Concerns/Microbial Resistance
Animal-Borne Diseases
Dead Bugs Don’t Mutate
Excessive/Inappropriate Use of Antimicrobial Products
Human Health Concerns
Hygiene Hypothesis Shields Kids From Heart Disease Later On
Miracle Drugs vs. Superbugs
Salmonella's Molecular Mimics May Spark Arthritis
The Problem with Gram-Negative Bacteria
Parent and Pediatrician Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices Regarding Pet-Associated Hazards
Veterinarians Safeguard Children's Health
Reptile Salmonella Transmitted Through Platelet Donations From Apparently Healthy Owner of Asymptomatic Boa


Preventing Infection
Cutting Through the Cutting Board Brouhaha
Dirt on Soap
Food for Thought: Lessons from a case of toxic ice cream
Hand-Transmitted Infection
How to Disinfect your Salad, Sponges and Sinks and Rags, Oh My!
Wash Your Hands!
Precautions You Can Take To Prevent Contamination
Researcher urges less use of anti-bacteria products
Tracking and Tackling Foodborne Germs
Useful Tips for Maintaining A Healthy Home
Vinegar and Hydrogen Peroxide as Disinfectants
Wash-Resistant Bacteria Taint Foods
West Nile Virus and Mosquito Control

Preventing Zoonotic Diseases in Immunocompromised Persons: The Role of Physicians and Veterinarians


Putting it all into some perspective...
Doctor's Group Questions Antibacterial Soaps
Researcher urges less use of anti-bacteria products
Too Clean Is No Good
Triclosan: Antimicrobial May Not Kill All Germs
Who Speaks for the Microbes?
Hand Sanitizer Alert - That alcohol-based hand sanitizer you're using may not be strong enough to kill surface organisms


Recommended Reading

Parasite Rex. Carl Zimmer, 2000.
Repulsive they may be to us, but Mother Nature cares not a whit for our feelings about parasites. She's concerned only with how successful those deadly freeloaders are in the evolutionary struggle, and, by any measure, parasites are thriving winners. This is a ghastly state of affairs for sufferers of river blindness, sleeping sickness, malaria, and more; fortunately, in the outlands of biology, a specialty called parasitology labors to understand and combat the organisms causing such afflictions. This is the field Zimmer unblinkingly explores, replete with scenes of dissections that expose the worms, flukes, and single-celled organisms that invade a host. Gross! But as Zimmer estimably explains how tough life is from the parasite's perspective, such as the relentless battle with the host's immune system, the reader begins to concede parasites their niche in the ecological system. Further, Zimmer usefully discusses parasites' behaviors, especially their defenses against antibodies, as evolutionary adaptations reaching back to the primeval epochs of life's history. A well-organized and well-presented survey of parasites' life cycles and the debilitations they cause. (ALA Booklist, August 2000, v96 i22, p2090)

Hardcover not available Amazon: CA,   UK,   US Barnes & Noble not available
Paperback A1 Books Amazon:  CA,   UK,   US Barnes & Noble

Salmonella uses molecular staples to change structure of infected cells

Further information on Salmonella and other zoonoses from reptiles and other pets, as well as in food and food processing, can be found in the (U.S.) Centers for Disease Control (CDC)'s National Antibiotic Monitoring System and FoodNet websites. Additional medical and related information can be found through PubMed and Scirus.  

Need to update a veterinary or herp society/rescue listing?

Amphibians Conservation Health Lizards Resources
Behavior Crocodilians Herpetology Parent/Teacher Snakes
Captivity Education Humor Pet Trade Societies/Rescues
Chelonians Food/Feeding Invertebrates Plants Using Internet
Clean/Disinfect Green Iguanas & Cyclura Kids Prey Veterinarians
Home About Melissa Kaplan CND Lyme Disease Zoonoses
Help Support This Site   Emergency Preparedness


© 1994-2014 Melissa Kaplan or as otherwise noted by other authors of articles on this site

Brought to you thanks to the good folks at Veterinary Information Network, Inc.