An outbreak of Salmonella across Alberta is being linked to reptiles and feeder rodents. Alberta Health Services says 12 cases have been identified so far in the North, Edmonton, Central, and Calgary Zones.
“Investigation findings have identified exposure to both snakes and feeder rodents (used as reptile food) as a likely source of the outbreak. Investigation into the facilities carrying feeder rodents is still ongoing.”
It’s noted that while anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection, children aged five years and under, older adults, pregnant women, or people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for contracting the illness. The symptoms include fever, chills, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache, nausea, and vomiting and usually last four to seven days.
“Most people who become ill from a Salmonella infection will recover fully after a few days,” adds AHS. “It is possible for some people to be infected with the bacteria and to not get sick or show any symptoms, but to still be able to spread the infection to others.”
The following tips from the provincial health authority are intended to prevent direct or indirect spread of Salmonella:
– Always wash your hands immediately after touching a reptile or rodent, and anything they eat, or after being in the area where they live, play or touch.
– Regularly clean with soapy water followed by a household disinfectant any surfaces or objects your reptile or rodent touches.
– Never kiss a pet rodent or reptile.
– Reptiles or rodents in homes, daycare centres, schools or other facilities with children aged 5 years and under is not recommended.
– Always supervise children when they touch or play with reptiles or rodents. Do not let them put reptiles and rodents or their supplies near their face or share their food or drinks with pets. Make sure they thoroughly wash their hands after touching reptiles or rodents.
– Do not clean or bathe reptiles and rodents in the kitchen sink or in bathroom sinks or bathtubs.
– Keep reptiles and rodents and all their food, containers and toys away from the kitchen and other places where food is made or eaten.
– Do not keep frozen feeder rodents in the same fridge or freezer as human food. Freezing rodents does not kill Salmonella.
– Always defrost and prepare frozen feeder rodents outside the kitchen, using dedicated utensils and containers.
– Be aware of the specific needs of your reptile. Stress for a reptile can increase shedding of Salmonella.
– Always keep reptiles and live rodents in habitats specifically designed for them.