Merck Manual

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Diseases that can be Spread from Reptiles to People

Diseases that can be Spread from Reptiles to People

Organism

Found in

Disease it Causes

Human Symptoms

Salmonella

Turtles and tortoises, lizards, and snakes

Salmonellosis

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

Edwardsiella

Turtles and tortoises, snakes

Gastroenteritis; neonatal sepsis and meningitis

Same as salmonellosis plus more life-threatening illnesses

Spirometra

Snakes

Sparganosis

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

Pentastomes (tongue worms)

Snakes

Pentastomiasis

Usually causes no symptoms; high numbers of worms can cause abscesses, masses, or blockage of ducts in various organs, with symptoms depending on the location

*Note: This is not a comprehensive list of infections passed from reptiles to people, but it includes 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).