Zoonotic Diseases & Reptiles/Amphibians

A zoonotic disease is a disease that can be passed from animals to humans. It is important to remember that the best way to protect yourself is to practice good hygiene after handling your reptile or amphibian or its waste. Wash your hands thoroughly with hot, soapy water.


An estimated 3% of households in the United States own at least one reptile and an estimated 70,000 people in the United States get salmonellosis from contact with reptiles or amphibians each year. Salmonellosis is a bacterial disease.

Typical symptoms include diarrhea, fever, and stomach pain that starts 1 to 3 days after infection. These symptoms usually go away after 1 week. In some cases, medical attention is required because the diarrhea is severe or the infection has affected other organs. Usually, people get salmonellosis by eating contaminated food, such as chicken or eggs. However, reptiles, including turtles, lizards, and snakes can carry Salmonella and pass it in their feces.


  • Always wash your hands thoroughly after you handle your pet reptile or amphibian, its food, and anything it may have touched.
  • Keep your pet reptile or amphibian in a habitat designed for it; don't let it roam around your home.
  • Keep your pet reptile or amphibian and its equipment out of the kitchen or any roam where food is prepared.
  • Children especially should be reminded that you should not nuzzle or kiss your pet reptile or amphibian.
  • Keep reptiles and amphibians out of homes with children under 1 year of age or immunocompromised individuals.
  • Children under 5 years of age should handle reptiles or amphibians only with parental supervision and wash their hands thoroughly afterwards.
  • Wash hands after contact with pets, pet food and pet bowls. Wash with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds, then rinse and dry your hands with a paper towel.
  • Routinely clean pet food bowls and feeding areas.
  • Clean pets' food and water dishes in a separate sink or tub, not in the kitchen or bathtub.
  • Avoiding bathing infants in the kitchen sink.

If you have any questions or concerns about your pet's health, please consult your veterinarian. If you have concerns about your health, please seek medical attention from your health care provider. Take your reptiles or amphibians to your veterinarian for regular check-ups, and if it exhibits any symptoms.

Source: CDC