What Diseases Can Be Passed from Iguanas to Humans?

Discover the potential diseases that can be transmitted from iguanas to humans. Learn how to stay safe while interacting with these fascinating reptiles.

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Iguanas are captivating creatures that often pique the interest of reptile enthusiasts. These green reptiles can be found in various parts of the world, and some people even keep them as pets. While interacting with iguanas can be a unique experience, it’s essential to be aware of the potential health risks.

In this comprehensive article, we will delve into the diseases that can be passed from iguanas to humans, providing valuable insights and safety tips to ensure a positive interaction.

Iguanas: Fascinating but Risky

Iguanas have long been admired for their prehistoric appearance and gentle demeanor. However, it’s crucial to remember that they are not without risks. Here are some essential factors to consider when dealing with iguanas:

  1. Salmonellosis: A Common ConcernSalmonellosis is a bacterial infection caused by the Salmonella bacteria. It can be transmitted to humans through contact with iguana feces, saliva, or contaminated surfaces. Symptoms include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps.
  2. Campylobacter Infection: Another Bacterial ThreatCampylobacter infection is another bacterial risk associated with iguanas. This bacterium can be present in their digestive systems and may lead to gastrointestinal issues in humans.
  3. Leptospirosis: A Less Common but Serious ThreatLeptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can be transmitted through contact with contaminated water or soil containing iguana urine. It can lead to flu-like symptoms and more severe complications if left untreated.
  4. Iguana Bites: Physical InjuryIguanas, especially males, can become territorial and aggressive during mating seasons. Their bites can cause physical injuries and potential infections. Proper handling and respect for their space are essential.

Understanding the Risks

It’s crucial to comprehend the risks associated with iguanas to ensure your safety and the well-being of these creatures. Here’s what you need to know:

Hygiene Matters: Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling iguanas or cleaning their enclosures. Hand sanitizer can be handy when water isn’t available.

Avoid Face Contact: Refrain from kissing or touching your face while handling iguanas to prevent the transfer of bacteria.

Keep Enclosures Clean: If you have pet iguanas, maintain a clean living environment to minimize the risk of disease transmission.

Vet Check-Ups: Regularly consult a veterinarian to ensure your pet iguana is healthy and free from diseases.

Educate Yourself: Stay informed about iguana behavior and their specific care requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can iguanas transmit diseases through their scales?

No, iguanas are not known to transmit diseases through their scales. The primary risk comes from contact with their feces, saliva, and urine.

Can iguanas carry parasites?

Yes, iguanas can carry internal and external parasites, such as ticks and mites. Regular vet check-ups can help detect and treat these issues.

Are iguanas good pets despite the risks?

Iguanas can make wonderful pets for experienced reptile owners who are aware of the potential risks and are committed to proper care and hygiene.

How can I protect myself from iguana-related diseases?

Practicing good hygiene, avoiding face contact, and keeping your iguana’s enclosure clean are key steps to protect yourself.

What should I do if I get bitten by an iguana?

If bitten, clean the wound thoroughly with soap and water, apply an antiseptic, and seek medical attention to prevent infection.

Can iguana-related diseases be fatal?

While rare, some iguana-related diseases can be severe if left untreated. Prompt medical care is essential if you experience symptoms.


Iguanas are captivating reptiles that can provide unique experiences for enthusiasts and pet owners. However, it’s vital to be aware of the potential diseases that can be passed from iguanas to humans.

By following proper hygiene practices, respecting their space, and seeking regular veterinary care for pet iguanas, you can minimize the risks and enjoy a safe and fulfilling interaction with these remarkable creatures.

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