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Salmonella Infection (salmonellosis) and Animals

Important Tip!

Protect yourself against getting Salmonella from animals. Simply wash your hands with running water and soap after any contact with animal feces (stool).

What is salmonellosis?

Salmonellosis (sal-mohn-el-OH-sis) is a bacterial disease caused by the bacterium Salmonella. Many different kinds of Salmonella can make people sick. Most people have diarrhea, fever, and stomach pain that start 1 to 3 days after they get infected. These symptoms usually go away after 1 week. Sometimes, people have to see a doctor or go to the hospital because the diarrhea is severe or the infection has affected other organs.

Can animals transmit salmonellosis to me?

Yes, many kinds of animals can pass salmonellosis to people. Usually, people get salmonellosis by eating contaminated food, such as chicken or eggs. However, animals can carry Salmonella and pass it in their feces (stool). Therefore, people can also get salmonellosis if they do not wash their hands after touching the feces of animals. Reptiles (lizards, snakes, and turtles), baby chicks, and ducklings are especially likely to pass salmonellosis to people. Dogs, cats, birds (including pet birds), horses, and farm animals can also pass Salmonella in their feces.

Some people are more likely than others to get salmonellosis. A person's age and health status may affect his or her immune system, increasing the chances of getting sick. People who are more likely to get salmonellosis include infants, children younger than 5 years old, organ transplant patients, people with HIV/AIDS, and people receiving treatment for cancer. Special advice is available for people who are at greater risk than others of getting this disease from animals.

How can I protect myself from salmonellosis?

  • After contact with animal feces (stool), wash your hands with soap and running water.
  • Wash your hands with soap and running water after touching reptiles or any objects and surfaces that a reptile has also touched.
  • If you have a compromised immune system, avoid contact with reptiles, baby chicks, and ducklings.
  • If you have a compromised immune system, be extra cautious when visiting farms and contacting farm animals, including animals at petting zoos.

How can I find out more about salmonellosis?

Human Salmonellosis Associated with Animal-Derived Pet Treats --- United States and Canada, 2005.

Learn more about salmonellosis at CDC's salmonellosis Web site which includes answers to frequently asked questions, technical information, and additional resources.

Check out why parents should think twice before buying their kids Easter Chicks!

Wright JG, Tengelsen LA, Smith KE, Bender JB, Frank RK, Grendon JH, et al. Multidrug-resistant Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak. Emerging Infectious Diseases, Aug 2005.

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