Pet Geckos May be Dangerous to Owners

Posted on June 17, 2015 16:01

According to a new Indonesian study, pet geckos may spread antibiotic-resistant and dangerous bacteria to human. Geckos are an imported species of pet popular in the US.

The study was co-authored by Sonia Hernandez, an associate professor of wildlife diseases at the University of Georgia, who said, “The study shows how importing animals can introduce bacteria into households.” She added. “In general, it's a good idea to know what bacteria an animal is bringing in. Any new animal, especially one imported from another country, could introduce new bacteria into a pet owner's household.”

The geckos had high resistance rates to antibiotics that are common in the US, such as penicillin and cephalosporin. They also had resistance to antibiotics common in Southeast Asia, such as tetracycline, aminopenicillin and chloramphenicol. Co-author Christine Casey, of the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine, said that owners not handling their geckos appropriately may fall ill. She said, “Owners, especially children, should always wash their hands after being in direct or indirect contact with geckos. If pet owners were to get an infection, then doctors may be unable to treat it with certain antibiotics.”

She added, “Tokay geckos are naturally aggressive and that sometimes leads to their release in the wild by owners who were not aware of their behavior. That ends up being a bigger problem when the geckos can transfer their bacteria to other wildlife.”

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