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Pediatrics. 1997 Mar;99(3):399-402.

Iguanas and Salmonella marina infection in children: a reflection of the increasing incidence of reptile-associated salmonellosis in the United States.

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Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Disease, National Center for Infectious Disease, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA.



To investigate clinical aspects and risk factors for Salmonella serotype Marina infection in the United States.


We identified all isolates of S Marina reported in 1994 to the National Salmonella Surveillance System. Patients were interviewed about demographic information, clinical course, diet, travel history, and contact with reptiles before illness.


Twenty-six (81%) of 32 patients were infants (<1 year of age) and 24 (75%) were male. This differs from other Salmonella isolates reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1994, of which 14% were from infants and 49% from male patients. Eleven patients (34%) were hospitalized for a median of 3.5 days (range: 2 to 21 days), and 1 died. Of 28 patients (88%) with reported iguana exposure, only 4 (14%) touched the reptile, and only 12 respondents (43%) realized that it might have been the source of infection. Seven (32%) of 22 families who owned an iguana at the time of illness continued to own an iguana when contacted a median of 28 weeks later. Persons who thought that the iguana was the source of infection were more likely to have given away or sold the pet than those who did not. Four isolates (13%) were from blood. Bacteremia was associated with taking antibiotics during the 30 days before S Marina infection (odds ratio: 24; 95% confidence interval: 1.2-1309).


S Marina infection is a potentially serious illness associated with iguana exposure, and it reflects the larger problem of reptile-associated salmonellosis. Many parents do not know that owning an iguana puts their children at risk for Salmonella infection. Pediatricians, veterinarians, and pet store owners should inform their patients and customers of the potential risks of owning reptiles and provide appropriate preventive education.

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