A pet snake may have caused the death of a woman who died after receiving a tainted blood transfusion. Salmonella bacteria from the snake may have contaminated the blood given by the blood donor. Another woman became ill following a transfusion from the same donor, but she survived. Snakes carry salmonella bacteria (the same bacteria that infects poultry), but this is the first time a snake has been implicated in a death this way.

After both women became ill and the first woman died, the blood they were given was traced back to a man who owns a boa constrictor. He felt fine when he gave blood, but it turned out he?d become infected with salmonella from his pet snake. When bacteria from the snake was tested, it was the same strain that was found in both victims, as well as in the pet owner.

Dr. Mehrdad Jafari says, “Up to 3% of U.S. households have a pet reptile, and these reptiles may account for as many as 3% to 18% of the estimated 1.4 million cases of salmonella infections that occur annually in the U.S.”

So if you?re a snake handler, be cautious about giving blood.

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