Written by Lola Gayle

Researchers are sounding the alarm for owners of Tokay geckos, which harbor bacteria that are resistant to a number of antibiotics.

These geckos are imported after being caught in the wild and are known for the “to-kay” sounds they make, reports Molly Berg for the University of Georgia.

In order to study this antibiotic resistance, Sonia Hernandez, an associate professor of wildlife diseases, imported geckos from Indonesia. She and Christine Casey, a graduate student in the College of Veterinary Medicine, then collected samples of the geckos’ poop and tested them against common antibiotics.

According to Berg, “They found that the bacteria from the geckos’ intestines-known as enteric bacteria-were resistant to the antibiotics.”

“The study shows how importing animals can introduce bacteria into households,” said Hernandez, who is jointly appointed to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, based in the college, and the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. “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.

Casey tells Berg that these geckos have “health implications when it comes to spreading the bacteria to pet owners. If owners don’t handle the pets correctly, they risk contracting an infection.”

“Owners, especially children, should always wash their hands after being in direct or indirect contact with geckos,” Casey added. “If pet owners were to get an infection, then doctors may be unable to treat it with certain antibiotics.”

The findings were published in a recent issue of Science of the Total Environment.

If you’re a pet owner interested in learning more about this study, please read the original statement from the University of Georgia. And you can read the full findings of this study here.

Image Caption: University of Georgia researchers found that tokay geckos are resistant to several types of antibiotics, a potential health concern for gecko owners. Credit: Michael Yabsley/University of Georgia

This post is also available at STEAMRegister.com