Merck Manual

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Diseases that can be Spread from Reptiles to People

Diseases that can be Spread from Reptiles to People


Found in

Disease it Causes

Human Symptoms


Turtles and tortoises, lizards, and snakes


Upset stomach, cramps, diarrhea, fever, nausea, and vomiting; can become life-threatening


Turtles and tortoises, snakes

Gastroenteritis; neonatal sepsis and meningitis

Same as salmonellosis plus more life-threatening illnesses




Painful and inflamed skin nodules, swelling and inflammation around the eye, could travel to the brain

Pentastomes (Tongue worms)


Pentastomid infections

Inflammation of the prostate gland, eye infection, watery eyes, stomach pain, nose discharge, difficulty breathing and swallowing, vomiting, headaches, low tolerance of light, abnormal protrusion of the eyeball

*Note: This is not a comprehensive list of infections passed from reptiles to people, but it does include the ones that are most common. (For a more detailed discussion of diseases you can catch from animals, see Introduction to Diseases Spread between Animals and People (Zoonoses).