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American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that exposing children to pets may, besides joy, also bring them infections and injuries. They are trying to raise awareness among parents about salmonella infection and even monkey pox that may occur when owning nontraditional pets as rodents, reptiles, monkeys, etc.

With nontraditional pets becoming more traditional, so are the diseases you otherwise might not be exposed them to. If thinking about having these nontraditional pets, it would be wise to talk to a veterinarian and/or pediatrician first to see if there is any real concern.

AAP's report shows that the number of exotic animals in the United States has nearly doubled since 2002. Over 40,000 households now own hedgehogs and 4.4 million homes reptiles.

Health experts warn that the health risks having this pets may bring are real. Back in 2003, a human monkey pox outbreak was traced back to imported African Gambian rats that had infected prairie dogs sold as pets. Small pet turtles were responsible for 103 cases of salmonella infection mostly in young children and an Iraqi dog sent recently to the United States as part of an international animal rescue effort was found to have rabies.

Diseases potentially transmitted by these unusual pets are:

Reptiles have a high rate of carrying different strains of salmonella, as do turtles, baby poultry -- including chicks -- and hamsters.
Plague is carried by wild rodents and transmitted to humans handling infected animals -- including domestic cats -- that have been bitten by fleas.
Macaque monkeys carry the herpes B virus.

These animals don't have to be in your home to pose a risk. Over 55 outbreaks of diseases in humans involved animals in public settings.
Mostly at risk are children under 5 years as their immune systems are still developing. Also, adults with weakened immune systems, the elderly and pregnant women belong to the high risk group.

Frequent hand washing will help minimize these risks.

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My friend got it from her cat. I don't know about the other way around.
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