Salmonella is a genus of primarily rod shaped bacteria found worldwide, with two species being known, Salmonella enterica and Salmonella bongori, which is by far the more commonly seen species in the digestive tracts, as well as on or in the skin, scales, food, and water of captive reptiles and amphibians, as well as other animals. According to the CDC (or Centers for Disease Control & Prevention), most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, dehydration, fever, and/or abdominal cramping anywhere from 12 to 72 hours and lasting anywhere from 4 to 7 days, with most individuals recovering. However, sometimes more serious signs and symptoms can manifest requiring hospitalization, particularly among elderly adults, infants and young children 5 and under, and those with otherwise compromised immune systems.

Reports and accounts mentioning the zoonotic disease (diseases & parasites which can be transferred to humans from animals) potential when keeping pets have become increasingly commonplace in the news and media. Reptiles and other “exotics” are frequently depicted by anti-pet organizations and the media as posing a serious public health and safety risk due to the transmission of Reptile associated salmonellosis (RAS) and other such zoonotic diseases. However, the truth is that they only make up a very minuscule percentage of overall numbers of cases, and that many other animals and sources can also be sources for infection. Provided below is a breakdown of salmonella case data from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) examining human and non human sources of infection. Unfortunately, 2009 is the most recently available published data from the CDC on RAS that we could locate and are aware of. Most of the more recent published RAS data and statistics are concerning specific outbreaks of zoonotic diseases involving reptiles or other pets.  We will continue to keep a look out for additional published statistics from the CDC and other sources as much as possible.