How likely is it that you will get sick from handling tropical fish or amphibians? Well, like any other wild animal, there are risks involved. With amphibians even handling them can lead to general discomfort before a full-blown infection is revealed.
Yes, it’s true: People can be infected with a variety of illnesses and infections from wild animals, whether they are mammals, amphibians, snakes, or birds. But they can also become seriously ill from bacteria that the can be picked up while taking care for tropical fish tank or coming into contact with a variety of snakes and amphibians,
It is sufficient, therefore, to remind yourself that handling animals can lead to some serious illnesses, such as botulism and salmonella poisoning, either of which can be fatal. In addition, the United States is home to 21 venomous snakes (and one species of poisonous frog). A bite from any poisonous snakes can be fatal, but fatalities are rare if treated properly and on time. There are also poisonous snakes like the tiger rattlesnake that is rarely found (its habitat in the United States is limited to southern areas of Arizona) and which is timider than other species. Furthermore, rattlesnakes have a rattle for a reason, as they tend to prefer you back away when warned rather than step on them and get risk getting bitten.
Meanwhile, there is one species of poisonous frog in the United States, the pickerel frog. It has an extensive range and can be found anywhere from eastern Texas to Maine. It is rarely found west of the Mississippi River and is recognized by the telltale pattern of what looks like squares on its back.
A dose of poison from the pickerel frog is generally not fatal to humans, although it is fatal to other frogs. Someone collecting a few frogs and keeping them in a bucket often finds out they have a pickerel frog in the bunch by checking the bucket at the end of the day and finding only one species that has survived.
Meanwhile, bacterial infections can be transferred to humans handling poisonous and non-poisonous animals as the pathogens are found on their skin and other settings. In fact, people can get sick from simply handling the food for their fish or pet snakes. As you can imagine, federal guidelines for companies producing fish food are considerably relaxed compared with food sold for human consumption.
Before listing a few of the pathogens you can pick up from pets and pet food, let’s review steps to help people stay safe in the vicinity of reptiles and fish.
Wash your hands before and after handling
Besides “hey, don’t get bitten” the number one suggestion for handling snakes, fish, and amphibians are to wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling them. Washing thoroughly means spending time at the sink with anti-bacterial soap or hand sanitizer. Don’t rush the washing as it takes time for the anti-bacterial agents to do their job. Rushing hand washing is not advised.
Keep your fish tanks clean
Another step for staying safe is to clean your fish tanks, terrariums. or cages clean. This will reduce the number of pathogens you might come across.
This suggestion is self-explanatory.
Do not handle…
Don’t handle fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles if you have an open wound or a rash or dry skin. Pathogens can get into “your system” through open wounds, scrapes, or rashes, including dry skin. Some of these pathogens to not do this to reside on your skin; they do this to invade your blood cells and blood infections are very dangerous to the host.
The list of possible pathogens is long. Here is a list of some of the most common.
Salmonella – is a bacterial infection that can be fatal. It is often transferred from an animal’s skin to a human’s mouth because your hands pick up the bacteria then you touch your face near your mouth. It is also found in animal feces and in water, so extend your precautions to handling water dispensers or dishes of water left in the cage for the animal.
Botulism is an infection that is life-threatening. Caused by the Clostridium bacteria, botulism is considered a very serious infection that can be picked up by handling reptiles, especially turtles and other aquatic reptiles. It is also found n the soil, where animals pick up the bacteria. As we age, our immune systems develop a defense of various organisms, that are not available to infants. As such, when an infant comes into contact with Clostridium, it is often fatal.
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