As far as I know, reptiles have salmonella in their mouths as part of their digestive process. Every time I hear about someone being bitten by an python or alligator or monitor either at a zoo or in the news or from a private owner, it seems like whoever is bit recovers with ease.

How come something as virulent as salmonella that can evade an immune response doesn't cause whoever gets bitten to nearly immediately become septic? Is it because salmonella only attacks epithelial tissue and there isn't much of that deep in an arm or leg?

  • $\begingroup$ Important to considera as welk that a Salmonella infection isnt always that bad, even the gastrointestinal salmonella infection can be mild depending on the serotype. Salmonella is actually very common in some parts of the world and it isnt super deadly or anything. $\endgroup$ – MikeKatz45 Dec 30 '18 at 20:38
  • $\begingroup$ @MikeKatz45 Others and myself been through enough food poisoning to know everything you just said is total BS. $\endgroup$ – user14554 Dec 30 '18 at 21:43
  • $\begingroup$ nop, look at my answer $\endgroup$ – MikeKatz45 Dec 31 '18 at 1:10
  • $\begingroup$ @MikeKatz45 I looked at the first few words and figured it was a waste of time and ignored the rest, especially considering the question is already answered. You can't speak against people's personal medical history and there is plenty of documentation that people have died from salmonella in the past. I am going to take a rare opportunity to downvote for the first time ever, congratz on being the only one to earn that. $\endgroup$ – user14554 Dec 31 '18 at 6:04
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, those like you who make the mistake of assuming they are omnipotent gods. This is not a religion site, this is a biology site. $\endgroup$ – user14554 Dec 31 '18 at 19:11

Salmonella infect via the fecal-oral route. They have proteins on their surface that match our gut cell surfaces, allowing them to attach and invade the gut. Those cell markers aren't present when you are bitten. it's the same reason that plant virus dont make us sick.


this is a bit heavy if you dont usually read primary papers, but looking for "Salmonella route of infection" or similar will yield the same kind of information


You can have Salmonella without actually knowing it, the reason behind this is that there is a group of salmonellas known clinically as non-typhoid Salmonellas (this means they are still S: enteritidis, but different serovars other than the more popular S. typhi). These most of the time cause mild infections as noted by the World Health Organization non-typhoid Salmonella. These infections can even be completely asymptomatic (carrier state) as it has been known for more than 2 decades Old paper on treatment for asymptomatic salmonellosis. We also now know thanks to modern genomic analyses that even within different strains of S. typhi some strains are more virulent than others.

There is even an atlas provided regarding the "less popular" Salmonella serovars, I suggest checking it out if you are truly interested in this topic CDC Salmonella Atlas.

Also regarding your original question there is an useful review here that mentions human-infecting serovars of Salmonella reported in relationship with snakes & lizards A Review of Salmonella and Squamates (Lizards, Snakes and Amphisbians): Implications for Public Health. As you will see the species reported belong to the group that can cause mild or asymptomatic infections so that could be contributing to the fact that people don't have that much trouble with bites from these animals in general. Of course what Stephanie said in his answer is true but also the implicated serovars are less virulent in general than the well-known S. typhi. More in favor on this last point you will see that in the review they mention that some people did develop extra-intestinal disease from reptile-derived Salmonellas like the man who got sinusitis, this means that if the strain is virulent enough in will cause disease even outside the gastrointestinal system.


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