Bearded dragons are lizards that live in the arid, rocky, semidesert regions and dry open woodlands of Australia. They were introduced to the United States in the 90's and have become popular as pets.
The lizards are small, friendly and low maintenance compared to other pets such as dogs or cats. They are also perfect for children and adults who live in apartments, dorms and other areas where larger, more traditional pets may not be allowed.
While bearded dragons are an interesting pet that many people enjoy taking care of, they can also spread diseases such as salmonella. In fact, bearded dragons were recently found to be the cause of a recent salmonella outbreak that has caused 132 people in 31 states to become ill since 2012.
In spite of the salmonella risk, many people continue to buy and care for bearded dragons.
— Brian Anderson (@BKAtheManScout) April 26, 2014
A bearded dragon is coming along for the ride pic.twitter.com/wlDZbnRjlN
— Kayla Petrini (@KaylaPetrini) April 25, 2014
— Clint Boon (@therealboon) April 25, 2014
— Amy Thompson (@PeefRimgar_) April 25, 2014
I sold my bearded dragon like a year ago and the woman I sold him to sends me pictures like this every holiday pic.twitter.com/Bb0lbWnf1Q
— Rachel Ingraham (@RachelIngraham) April 20, 2014
— just Oscar... (@just_op) April 19, 2014
Do you get to hang out with a bearded dragon chillin' on your shoulder? Didn't think so pic.twitter.com/6mFd32yD21
— Brooklyn☿ (@brookeerenae) April 3, 2014
Most of the people who have been infected by the salmonella are children under the age of 5. Many children who handle and play with bearded dragons do not wash their hands afterwards and can spread the disease to other children and animals. Children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems should avoid holding or touching the lizards to prevent contracting salmonella or spreading it.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says that bearded dragon owners should not allow their animals to roam free, bathe them in household sinks or bathtubs, take them into public places, including pet stores or take them near anywhere food or drinks are made or served.
Owners should also clean pet cages on the inside and outside and wash their hands thoroughly after holding or touching a bearded dragon to help kill salmonella.
Image via Wikimedia Commons