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Salmonella sickens 15 in 9 states due to bearded dragon contact

By Mike Heuer
The CDC says contact with bearded dragons has caused at least 15 people in at least nine states to become ill with salmonella and advises washing hands with soap and water after touching one. Photo by Jorge Torres/EPA-EFE
The CDC says contact with bearded dragons has caused at least 15 people in at least nine states to become ill with salmonella and advises washing hands with soap and water after touching one. Photo by Jorge Torres/EPA-EFE

June 15 (UPI) -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says a salmonella outbreak has sickened at least 15 people in at least nine states due to contact with pet bearded dragons.

The true number of those sickened likely is higher and in more states than the nine so far reported, CDC officials said Friday.

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New York has the most known cases with four reported, while California and Ohio each have two or three known cases.

Other states with one known case are Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia.

Most of those sickened are children under 5 years of age, and four have been hospitalized, according to the CDC.

Salmonella symptoms include fever, stomach cramps and diarrhea.

The CDC advises thoroughly washing hands with soap and water after handling bearded dragons and never kissing or snuggling them.

People also are advised to avoid eating or drinking while around the reptiles and keeping them away from spaces where children eat or play.

CDC officials say families with children under age 5, people over age 65 or those with weakened immune systems should avoid having bearded dragons as pets.

Bearded dragons get their name from spikes growing beneath their chins and are popular reptiles that generally are friendly and small.

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They originate in Australia and eat plants, insects and small rodents.

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