The outbreak of a rare strain of salmonella that sickened scores of people, including several infants, across the United States and Canada, has been linked to pet bearded dragons, some most likely obtained from the same breeder in Southeast Asia, according to a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The outbreak covered in the study occurred in 2021 and 2022, but salmonella infections associated with bearded dragons have become increasingly common in recent years, mirroring the rising popularity of the goofy, scaly lizards as household pets.
Last year, a salmonella outbreak in 20 states affected nearly three dozen people, 10 of whom were hospitalized, according to the C.D.C.
No deaths were reported.
Bearded dragons, scientifically known as Pogona, are native to Australia, but most of those sold to pet owners are bred in captivity. The banana-size lizards have won the hearts of pet enthusiasts across the world. Not only are they captivating to observe, but bearded dragons also can make engaging pets when provided with proper care.
Judging from the many social media accounts that document their adventures, pet bearded dragons spend a fair amount of time frolicking with their owners, wearing adorable outfits and scampering around living rooms and kitchens as if they were dogs.
“They are the golden retriever of the reptile world in terms of ease of handling,” said Dr. La’Toya Latney, president of the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians and the owner of several pet reptiles. (Unlike dogs, however, bearded dragons are not easy to potty train.)