You've Got What?
How infectious diseases are spread and simple and practical advice for preventing the spread of infection in the home and community
Reptiles (such as turtles, lizards and snakes), amphibians (such as frogs and toads) and fish (such as goldfish and tropical fish) can carry micro-organisms which may make you very sick. Of particular concern is a bacterium called Salmonella.
Many domestic and wild animals, including reptiles, amphibians and fish, can become infected with Salmonella and may intermittently shed Salmonella in their droppings (or faeces). Reptiles, amphibians and fish that are infected with Salmonella usually do not appear sick.
Salmonella can contaminate the pet and its surroundings, such as the pet enclosure, tank water and pebbles. Salmonella is able to survive in the environment for long periods (up to months or years).
People may become infected with Salmonella if they transfer animal droppings containing Salmonella bacteria from their hands to their mouths, for example, if eating after touching animals and failing to wash their hands.
If you, or a household member, become ill and need to visit your doctor, remember to tell your doctor about your contact with reptiles, amphibians and fish.
Salmonella infection in humans may cause gastroenteritis (infection in the gut), septicaemia (infection in the blood) and infection in other sites.
Symptoms may include:
Infection can be serious and may require hospitalisation.
In South Australia, Salmonella infection is a notifiable condition. Your doctor and the laboratory diagnosing this disease are required by law under the South Australian Public Health Act 2011 to inform SA Health's Communicable Disease Control Branch. This ensures that appropriate steps are taken to minimise the spread of an infectious disease in the community.
People with Salmonella infection should stay away from childcare, preschool, school or work until there has been no diarrhoea for at least 24 hours.
For more information on Salmonella infection, see the Salmonella infection - symptoms, treatment and prevention page.
Salmonella infection can occur in anyone, however the following groups of people are at an increased risk of severe Salmonella infection (or complications from infection), include:
People at an increased risk: