Furry animals have long been banned from some classrooms because of student allergies and asthma. In North Carolina, reptiles are now on the forbidden list, at least among licensed child-care centers.
After a review of state cleanliness rules governing child-care centers, reptiles were deemed too great a salmonella risk to be kept near children, who may not be as diligent as adults about washing their hands. Turtles, which also have salmonella bacteria naturally on their bodies, were already a no-no, said Edward H. Norman, the environmental epidemiologist with the children’s health branch of the state’s Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources.
Salmonella infections can cause diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pains, and fever. In rare cases, infected people could end up with long-lasting joint pain and chronic arthritis.
No salmonella outbreak led to the decision to banish reptiles, Mr. Norman said. Instead, the state was conducting a periodic review of its sanitation policies, which hadn’t been updated in 11 years, he said.
Frogs and salamanders pose the same risk, but amphibians are not included in the ban. Mr. Norman said the state Commission for Health Services is considering adding them to the list of animals that should be barred from child-care centers.
Sanitation rules for schools are next up for review, he said, noting that they haven’t been updated in 15 years.