Testing Your Beardie For Salmonella

“Is there any possibility of a family that wishes for herps of any kind to have the animal tested for Salmonella?”

This is an excellent question and one for which there is an excellent multi-part answer. Sure, you can spend upwards of $40 or more to check your herp for salmonella by stool culture. But bear in mind the following:

1. Reptiles don’t always shed salmonella in their stool. It is a random thing. You can test two, three or five times and come up negative and they may still have the germ… it just wasn’t present on the day you decided to take a specimen for culturing. Result: false sense of security.

And if it does come up positive, so what… there’s nothing you should do about it .

2. Salmonella is endemic in reptiles – wild and captive bred (which way back when were also wild caught). This means that medically it is assumed all herps have salmonella and random cultures of thousands of stool specimens from every type of herp have yielded positive cultures for more than 200 species of salmonella although some are more prevalent than others. Salmonella is passed generationally from mother to offspring as live young or eggs (yes, it passes into embryos through the egg) exit through the cloaca, an all-purpose conduit used for excreta, urinating, mating and passage of live young or eggs.

3. You shouldn’t treat your herp for salmonella unless it is such an overwhelming infection it is making the animal sick. And then the odds are against you but this is pretty rare. In order to wipe out salmonella you also wipe out the good germs in the gut and make the animal sick. Any vet who tells you he can cure your animal of its salmonella is wrong…

The other bad thing about giving your herp antibiotics for salmonella is that some of the germs will always survive but these super salmonellids are now resistant to antibiotics.

If the animal becomes overwhelmed by resistant strains or they get into a human, you have an untreatable and potentially fatal problem. This is a serious concern of the whole health care community as it fosters antibiotic resistant organisms.

So there is really no point for the hobbyist to spend their money on checking animals for salmonella. Spend money on hygienic aids and your time on following the protocols outlined on the aforementioned website.

When a human comes down with a serious salmonella infection or dies from it (as a number of babies have), the event is reportable to your local as well as Federal health authorities.

They will then test your herps (if any present in household or household of contacts) to determine if the germ in the human is genetically identical to those in the herps. This is how the relationship between human disease and herps was established. Of course, the health departments pick up the tab for the culturing when this happens.

The victim and victim’s families have plenty of other worries and expense. So it’s this “closing the barn door after the horse has been stolen” case that is about the only time culturing a herp for salmonella is used. But we can combat this by adopting universal precautions. Don’t trust any herp to be salmonella-free and everyone will be happy. As the saying goes, “if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.” We will understand.

This site does not constitute pet medical advice, please consult a licensed veterinarian in your area for pet medical advice.

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