PHOENIX (KSAZ) -
There's a new warning about bearded dragons spreading salmonella, but some reptile experts say - it's all hype.
The bearded dragon is very popular when it comes to reptiles as pets, but they have now joined the list of pets that can give you salmonella poisoning.
That caught the folks at the Arizona Herpetological Society by surprise.
"To say this is the culprit without a doubt.. I'm very skeptical about that and I have a lot of questions about that," said AHS curator, Daniel Marchand.
Marchand says he's never heard of anyone contracting salmonella after handling a bearded dragon and says with any animal, the best idea is to always practice proper hygiene before and after you hold them.
"The kids wash their hands with the sanitizer when they go in the cage, and they wash their hands when they're done with the bearded dragon. That's going to eliminate your problems if you just do that," he said.
Dr. Dan Quan of the Maricopa Medical Center adds, "If you've come in contact with a bearded dragon or any lizard, or reptile I recommend washing your hands thoroughly after handling. You may use some hand sanitizer, but certainly washing your hands is the best thing."
Quan says whether it's a lizard or cat or dog, many animals can spread salmonella through their feces.
"Any contact, exposure to a reptile or an animal can certainly do that. And even 10 percent of dogs or cats carry salmonella," he said.
"Your bearded dragon is a great pet, don't get rid of it for any reason. I'm telling you right now, it's not the main issue we're worried about today is not the bearded dragon," said Marchand.
Symptoms of salmonella poisoning include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. Health experts say it's important for people with bearded dragons to keep their cages clean and change the water frequently to help prevent salmonella.
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