REPTILE owners in central Scotland have been warned not to kiss their pets amid fears of a growing number of salmonella infections caused by the animals.
NHS Forth Valley has treated four people with cases of the bug linked to lizards in the last eight months, and has now issued guidelines on what not to do around the animals.
Bearded dragons pass on the salmonella bacteria through their droppings, and owners are advised to keep their dragons away from food preparation areas, wash their hands after handling their pets, and ensure their children avoid kissing the reptiles.
NHS Forth Valley’s Dr Henry Prempeh said: “Whilst salmonella is not usually life threatening in healthy individuals... the very young and the very old can often have complications associated with this infection. “
Bearded dragons, or pogona, are native to Australia and first became popular pets in the 1990s. They can grow up to two foot in length, and have distinctive flared necks which give rise to their name.