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Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2013 Jun;13(6):419-21. doi: 10.1089/vbz.2012.1133. Epub 2013 Mar 8.

Risk factors for invasive reptile-associated salmonellosis in children.

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Division of Infectious Diseases and Hospital Epidemiology, University Children's Hospital of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.


Reptile-associated salmonellosis (RAS) in children has been reported primarily due to direct contact with turtles, but recently also due to indirect contact with more exotic reptiles, causing disease in infants. To evaluate risk factors for RAS, we reviewed the RAS cases published in the literature since 1965. A case was defined as a child ≤18 years of age with an epidemiological link by identification of Salmonella enterica in cultures from both the affected child and the exposed reptile. We identified a total of 177 otherwise healthy children (median age 1.0 years, range 2 days to 17.0 years). RAS manifested mainly with gastrointestinal disease, but 15% presented with invasive RAS, including septicemia, meningitis, and bone and joint infection. The children with invasive RAS were significantly younger than children with noninvasive disease (median age 0.17 and 2.0 years, p<0.0001). RAS is most frequently seen after exposure to turtles (42%). However, children with invasive RAS had been exposed more often (p≤0.001) to reptiles other than turtles, including iguanas, bearded dragons, snakes, chameleons, and geckos. Children exposed to those latter reptiles usually kept indoors were younger than children exposed to turtles mostly kept outdoors (p<0.0001). RAS in children is significantly associated with invasive disease at young age, in particular infants <6 months of age. Exposure to reptiles, other than turtles, kept indoors is associated with RAS at younger age and more invasive disease. This finding is helpful for recognizing or even preventing invasive RAS in young infants that are at highest risk.

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