A: Salmonella can be carried by many types of animals. It is the most common human illness linked to exotic pets. Many pet and wild reptiles, especially aquatic turtles, carry this bacteria on their skins. Some birds, especially baby chicks and ducks, are sources of salmonella exposure. Even some dogs and cats shed this bacteria in their feces, especially those that are fed raw meat. 

In people, Salmonella causes unpleasant symptoms like abdominal cramps, nausea, watery or bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and fever.  The bacteria can be particularly serious in children, seniors, and people with impaired immune systems.  Most people are exposed through undercooked meat or eggs.  Most animals that carry the bacteria do not show any symptoms.

            To prevent salmonella exposure from pets and wildlife, be sure to wash hands with soap and warm water after handling reptiles, birds, or any animal feces.  Keep exotic environments clean.  Supervise children handling pets and ensure proper hand washing.  Young children and immuno-compromised people should avoid direct contact with reptiles and birds.