All Pets Veterinary Clinic


Zoonotic diseases are diseases that can be transferred from animal to human. It is
a well known fact that reptiles can carry certain organisms that can be transferred to
and cause infection in humans. However, it is important to realize that any animal can
carry organisms that are contagious to humans. In fact, every animal species, including
cats and dogs, can carry organisms that can cause problems in humans. This does not
mean that you should panic and get rid of your pet. It does mean that you should be
aware of the risks and take the necessary precautions to limit your chances for infection.

The following guidelines are designed to minimize the chance for you to become infected
by zoonotic organisms. (Please note, that while the recommendations below mention only
reptiles, they do apply to other domestic species as well.)

1. Always wash your hands after coming into contact with your reptile.

2. Wear gloves when handling feces or cleaning your petís cage. Many of the organisms
that are passed from reptile to human are shed in the feces. By minimizing exposure to
potentially infected materials, you minimize the risk.

3. Wear gloves when handling your reptile if you have open cuts or sores on your hands
and arms.

4. If you are scratched or bitten by your reptile, wash the lacerations well with soap
and water and apply a bandage. If necessary, you should seek medical attention.

5. Avoid contact with reptiles if you are immunocompromised in any way.

6. Educate and supervise children when they are handling your reptile. Children
have a tendency to put their hands into their mouths. This is one of the most common
ways people can become infected (fecal to oral contact). Discourage children from
doing this. Encourage them to wash their hands each and every time they touch a
reptile or other animal.

7. Observe the overall health of your reptile. If you notice diarrhea, poor appetite,
odd behaviors, or any other strange things, you should call your veterinarian.

8. Careful trimming of the nails on your reptile can help decrease the severity of
cuts that you may receive while handling your pet. Since some infectious organisms can
be introduced to humans this way, trimming nails can decrease the risk.

The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not
intended to take the place of your regular veterinarian. Please do not hesitate
to contact your regular veterinarian if you have questions regarding your pet.

Karen Blakeley, DVM, MPH
14 December 2002