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Warning: Do Not Allow Children Under Five To Have Contact With Exotic Animals

Posted By Regan Zambri & Long || 10-Oct-2008

Previously on DC Metro Personal Injury Law Blog, the risks associated with keeping baby chickens and ducks as pets were highlighted in an April, 2007 posting. Unfortunately, it is becoming evident that many other popular animals pose the same threat of passing salmonella, as well as other diseases, on to humans, according to an Associated Press article about a recent study about the dangers of owning exotic animals. Most exotic animals, including turtles, snakes, lizards, hedgehogs, mice, rats, hamsters, and many more, are known to be of a higher hazard than more common pets such as dogs and cats. This danger is most threatening to children, especially those under the age of 5, and those with weakened immune systems.

A recent study conducted for the American Academy of Pediatrics took a closer look at the dangers of owning such animals. It pointed out that though only about 2% of the country owns exotic pets, that is 75% more than what the US households owned in 1992.

Dr. Larry Pickering, lead author for the American Academy of Pediatrics and an infectious disease specialist at the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), notes that considering such drastic increases in popularity of exotic animals, pediatricians should be warning parents of the dangers of such animals. Unfortunately the study found that only about 5% of pediatricians communicate the danger associated with owning exotic pets to parents.

Dr. Pickering also found that 11% of children who become ill with salmonella poisoning, acquire it from coming in contact with animals. This may not be directly from family pets, many outbreaks start from zoos and circuses. According to another article posted on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "In an outbreak of salmonellosis at a Colorado zoo, 65 cases (most of them in children) were associated with touching a wooden barrier around the Komodo dragon exhibit." This is just one example of many cited by the article on the CDC website.

The following are recommendations from CDC to minimize the transfer of a disease from an animal to a human:

  • Do not purchase an exotic pet if there are children present under the age of 5;
  • If a child does come in contact with an exotic pet, make sure that they wash their hands immediately;
  • Discourage children from kissing exotic animals as this brings germs directly to their mouths;
  • If you feel that you absolutely must purchase an exotic animal, do not purchase one on a whim, research the species and make sure you are prepared for the extra precautions you will have to take in order to ensure the health safety of your family.

Previously posted on the DC Metro Area Personal Injury Law Blog:

  • Salmonella Risk: Dangers of Giving Baby Animals as Easter Gifts

For information about your legal rights, please click here or call the law firm of Regan Zambri & Long, PLLC at 202-759-6699.

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