MUSKOKA, ON-Outbreak of Salmonella illnesses linked to pet snakes and rodents.

The Public Health Agency announced on December 10th, that the growing outbreak of the disease that has spread across six provinces, including 16 cases in Ontario, that anyone who has come in contact with rodents or snakes is at risk of infection.

The cause for the infection is due to the Salmonella bacteria that rodents and snakes could carry.

In an interview with the MyMuskokaNow.com newsroom, Scales Nature Park Owner Jeff Hathaway said that while Salmonella exists within reptiles, no major threat exists. “The salmonella levels in reptiles have not increased in the past 20 years but I would suggest that you do not kiss your pet.”

Hathaway went on to say that your pet will carry certain diseases that may be natural to them, but potentially harmful to us. “I would suggest residents be mindful and smart when handling your pet and to keep a watchful eye on your children.”

The agency noted that those who are at the most risk of infection are children of five-years-old or younger, older adults, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.

Symptoms of the illness include fever, chills, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache, nausea, and vomiting.

The symptoms, according to the agency, last between four to seven days and the disease often clears up without treatment. In some rare cases of severe infection, hospitalization and antibiotics may be required.

The agency recommends that you wash your hands immediately after touching a reptile or rodent including anything they eat or after being in an area where they live, play or touch.

The agency also says to not keep frozen rodents in the same fridge or freezer as human food, prepare the frozen rodents for you reptile outside the kitchen, supervise children who are around rodents and snakes and do not clean/bathe the animals in the kitchen or bathroom sinks.

The health agency has documented 92 confirmed cases of Salmonella in British Columbia (4), Quebec (52), New Brunswick (9), Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador (6).

If you have any questions, be sure to visit your local veterinarian or doctor.