Aim: The number of pet reptiles is steadily increasing. Reptiles are known to shed Salmonella frequently. These salmonella are pathogenic to humans and reptile-associated salmonellosis is being recognised as an emerging zoonosis. In the present study a review of the current scientific literature was carried out, to estimate the extent of the occurrence, the risk, and the prophylactic measures against reptile-associated salmonellosis. The knowledge about the management of Salmonella, in reptiles is of importance both for veterinarians in private practice and for local veterinary authorities. Furthermore, the information and education of the reptile owners about the danger of infection could reduce the incidence of reptile-associated salmonellosis.
Material and methods: Literature review and retrospective analysis of own data.
Results: Up to 90% of captive reptiles excrete Salmonella often without clinical signs in contrast to free-ranging and wild reptiles, which appear to rarely shed Salmonella. Reptile-associated salmonellosis in humans are frequently caused by the serovars of the subspecies I, II, and especially by the subspecies IIIb and IV. Children have the highest risk of infection. The information about that danger of infection of reptile owners could represent an effective prophylactic measure to reduce the incidence of reptile-associated salmonellosis.
Conclusions and clinical relevance: Reptile-associated salmonellosis represents a important zoonosis. The increasing number of reptiles as patients in private veterinary practice request veterinarians to acquire a basic knowledge on the importance of hygienic handling of reptiles. In addition veterinarians play an important role to provide scientifically-based information about the risk of reptile-associated salmonellosis for owners. Important measures to exclude reptile-associated salmonellosis are to avoid contact of reptiles or their excrements with small children (< 5 years) and food intended for human consumption. Salmonella can effectively be removed by cleansing with alcohol or soap.