One of the diseases transmitted by iguanas to humans is called Typhi (Typhoid fever) and it’s a major concern among people who keep iguana as a pet. Know what it is and take extra precaution to avoid iguana typhi disease.
This became a serious concern after a 3-week-old baby died in Indiana, USA on October in 1996 due to infection by an adult Iguana, the cause of death was confirmed to be caused by Salmonella Thypi Bacteria. Not only iguanas, more than 90% reptiles and amphibians like salamander, frogs carry Salmonella Bacteria, and some dogs and cats also carry this bacteria.
In 1993, imports of iguanas around the world rose sharply, but also rose the incidence of reptile-associated salmonellosis. It is estimated that around 6% of sporadic salmonellosis cases (and 11% of cases in people aged under 21), in United States, were caused by reptile and amphibian contact.
Salmonella bacteria commonly live in the large intestine of reptiles and other animals, but these bacteria are more likely to live in iguanas because iguanas are herbivorous animals that ferment food in the gut.
This bacteria is found in iguana’s feces. However, the iguana carrying this bacteria is not easy to recognize since there are no visible signs of it. The only way to avoid typhoid is to prevent its spread of the bacteria salmonella causing the disease.
Typhoid disease can be easily infected in children under 5 years old, pregnant women, seniors, or adult humans with weaker immunity. Untreated Typhoid fever can lead to serious complications, which may lead to fatal outcome in up to 20% of cases. To avoid contact with the iguana typhi disease, you should ensure that these group of people shall not make direct contact with the iguana that has the sign of being ill or sick.
Here are some of the tips to follow to avoid being infected with the bacteria;
- Make sure to clean the dirt from iguana to avoid the possibility of the bacteria spread through the air
- Make sure to wash your hands using antibacterial or soap after touching the iguana
- Bathe the iguana every time you remove the dirt and bathe the iguana with mild soap at least once a week
- Clean the cage with disinfectant at least once a week
- If the iguana is removed, make sure the surrounding floor is cleaned with a disinfectant like Dettol.
- Keep the iguana out of the kitchen or come in contact with the utensils
- If exposed to iguana scratch, immediately treat with betadine or wash with a disinfectant like Dettol or antibacterial soap, because the iguana’s feet are exposed to dirt.
How to recognize Typhi disease
Untreated Typhoid fever develops through several distinct stages (about one week long each).
First signs include fever, headache, low appetite and slower heart rate.
In the second week, person is usually to tired to get up, often having diarrhea (although constipation is not uncommon). The abdomen is painful often with rose spots.
If the illness remains untreated, numerous complications develop in the third week (like intestinal perforation, brain inflammation, pneumonia…). Treated with antibiotics, patients feel better after 1-2 days, but it can take up to two weeks for the recovery.