Salmonella Arizona – What You Have To Know

We all want to remain healthy and none of us like the idea of getting sick – however it does happen, and it’s always unpleasant. 

One bacteria that can cause us to be violently ill is salmonella, which primarily causes foodborne diseases.

Salmonella Arizona - What You Have To Know

However, there are different species of salmonella and one of which is the subject for today’s guide – the subspecies known as salmonella arizona. 

We’re going to look at what it is and what it can do, along with other handy tips. So, read on for more! 

What Is It?

Salmonella Arizona is one of the lesser known members of the salmonella family and has a completely different biochemical structure and characteristics than its parent. 

It is able to cause lactose sugars to ferment, cause gelatin to liquify and appears to be inhibited when potassium cyanide is nearby – a very strange reaction. 

It was first documented in the early 20th century and noticed within reptiles with diseases.

At the time, this bacteria had a slightly different name and over time, the name developed until eventually it was officially recognized as salmonella arizona. 

In the early years of its discovery, scientists believed it only to be dangerous and pathogenic to reptiles – particularly snakes.

However, now and again it would lead to outbreaks within the farm community of sheep and turkeys. 

However, by the mid 20th century, the first human contraction was reported with gastroenteritis.

Due to this, researchers were able to determine that salmonella arizona could be responsible, or at least partly responsible, for illnesses such as:

  • Gastroenteritis 
  • Vascular infection 
  • Bacteraemia 
  • Joints and bone infections 

Whilst most people will be able to recover from these types of illnesses, some do not and it can be especially more dangerous among groups such as the elderly, people with auto-immune diseases and the very young. 

How Common Is It?

It’s no longer as common as it used to be, however research suggests that the country with the most infection rate is in Taiwan – likely due to the snake population. 

This is because salmonella arizona still continues to be prominent in reptiles and still especially with snakes. 

This type of bacteria can live for a long time in animal dung and in tap water – so it can be easily transferred from one animal to another. 

Can You Die From Salmonella Arizona?

Although uncommon, it is possible to die from this and it has happened in the past. Doctors in India were once presented with a child that was showing symptoms of extreme diarrhea and pneumonia. 

Doctors and medical professionals had to take samples for tests to rule out certain illnesses.

Once they had done so, they eventually discovered the pathogen in a fecal sample and researched the child’s family history. 

It was discovered that her father’s former profession was as a snake charmer, which is likely where the child had contracted salmonella arizona from. 

Unfortunately, due to the age of the child and the time it took for treatment – the child succumbed to the infection and passed away. 

How Can You Tell If A Snake Has Salmonella Arizona?

You can’t – at least not by basic observation. Snakes, much like most reptiles, are symptomless to things like this. 

Whilst this is good for them, it can be deadly for us.

As a result, it is advised that you always wear protective clothing and wash your hands thoroughly if you ever have to handle a snake. 

Why Is It So Prevalent Among Snakes? 

It is unclear, but scientists theorize that it is likely to be predominantly in the snake community because of how they live. 

As this pathogen can exist for months in water and soil – where snakes often frequent, it is possible that snakes pick up salmonella arizona as they go about their daily business. 

What Happens If You Are Infected With Salmonella Arizona?

Typically, most people will recover with rest and lots of water and some people may exhibit no symptoms. Sometimes, doctors will prescribe antibiotics.

However, it can wreak havoc on those most at risk. 

If this is the case, hospitalization may be required. To reduce the risk of contracting this, it is advised not to keep snakes and always practice good hand hygiene. 


Salmonella Arizona, although rare, is very serious to those at risk and you should always remain vigilant and practice good hygiene to protect yourself.

Jennifer Dawkins

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