Sutton baby boy recovers after getting Salmonella from pet lizard


A Sutton baby is recovering after contracting the potentially deadly Salmonella Pomona bacteria from a family reptile.


Jennifer Morris, Adam Knight & Sophie Garrod  

A Sutton baby is recovering after contracting the potentially deadly Salmonella Pomona bacteria from a family reptile.

The five-month-old boy was rushed to St George’s Hospital, Tooting, after developing severe diarrhea.  

Tests revealed he was suffering from the effects Salmonella Pomona, a rare strain found in reptiles.

Investigations by Sutton Council Environmental Health Officers revealed the disease was picked up from either the family’s Bearded Dragon lizard or tortoise.   

Sutton Cllr Simon Wales said: “I’m really pleased to hear this little boy has made a good recovery.

“This is a very worrying case and thankfully a very rare one.” 

This case is not unique. In 2009 a Sutton baby girl was admitted to intensive care with Salmonella Arizona bacteria.

While in 2007 a three-week-old baby died after contracting Salmonella Pomona from a pet turtle. 

Cllr Wales says exotic reptiles are becoming increasingly popular but many owners are unaware of the health risks associated with lizards, snakes and tortoises.

This rise in popularity is due to the internet providing easier access to a wider range of reptiles. 

Animal welfare group Born Free says there is very little accurate information made available at the point of sale.

It is estimated over 90% of reptiles carry Salmonella.  

“Any reptiles can carry Salmonella, so they are very unsuitable as domestic pets,” said a Born Free spokesman.

“The fact they are available does not mean they are safe and good pets to keep.”  

Pet shop employee Lauren Mancini believes a greater awareness of these dangers to young children is needed.

She said: “I own a Bearded Dragon and I wasn’t aware they carried the disease.” 

There are some basic hygiene precautions that can significantly help cut the risk of infection. See our Information Box for further details.

The Born Free spokesperson urges owners not to abandon their reptile but to seek expert opinion.

Call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 555 for information.

Information Box
  • Always supervise children so they do not put the reptile (or objects that the reptile has touched) near their mouths
  • Wash your own and childrens’ hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately after any contact
  • Keep your reptile out of rooms where food is prepared and eaten
  • Always wash hands immediately after handling reptiles’ cages or other equipment, feeding, and after handling raw (frozen or defrosted) reptile food
  • Ensure that all surfaces that have come into contact with defrosting food are cleaned thoroughly afterwards
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke while handling your reptile
  • Do not use kitchen sinks to bathe your reptile or their equipment
  • If you use a bathroom sink or bathtub, clean it thoroughly with disinfectant afterwards
  • Dispose of waste water and droppings from your reptile down the toilet instead of a sink or bathtub

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