Salmonella in Pet Rodents

Each year in the United States, a vast number of Salmonella infections are associated with contact with reptiles. Recently, though, there have been several cases of Salmonella infections in people due to contact with small pet rodents such as mice and hamsters. Salmonella is the general name for a large "family" of bacteria usually associated with food poisoning from contaminated or undercooked foods that usually lives in the gastrointestinal tract.

What To Watch For

Salmonella infections can result in a variety of illnesses, such as pneumonia, meningitis and septicemia. The most common clinical signs for both rodents and people include:


Your veterinarian will begin by a physical examination, including a complete history. In addition, some diagnostic tests are needed to specifically diagnose Salmonella and exclude other diseases. These may include:


The two most important treatments for a Salmonella infection are antibiotics BASED ON CULTURE AND SENSITIVITY and treatment of dehydration.

Home Care and Prevention

Although antibiotics can be used to decrease the numbers of Salmonella bacteria enough to treat most active infections, antibiotics almost never kill all of the Salmonella bacteria. In fact, the bacteria that survive are usually resistant to the antibiotic that was just used to treat the patient and so will be harder to kill in the future.