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Can I spread germs to my tortoise?

Discussion in 'Tortoise FAQs - New and need help?' started by tortilla4, Apr 7, 2019.

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  1. tortilla4

    tortilla4 Member

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    Hello wise tortoise friends! I have a question for you all to ponder. Every time I get sick I worry that I might spread my germs to my tortoise when caring for her. Do you think that is possible? I want to know if this is something I should worry and be cautious about or if it simply isn't possible. Please share your wisdom! :)
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  2. Cathie G

    Cathie G Well-Known Member

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    I'm no expert but when you care for any animal(even humans) you should be careful. I wash my hands constantly when I'm feeding and watering my animals in the morning. I try to protect them from any cross contamination between all of us.
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  3. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Tortoise Club

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    There are very few diseases that cross the species line. Tortoises can't catch your cold or flu.
  4. JoesMum

    JoesMum Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Normal handwashing precautions when handling pets are all that are needed... and that’s to protect you rather than your tortoise :)
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  5. Ben02

    Ben02 Well-Known Member

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    I don’t know anything about passing a disease onto a tort, but I think I’ve contracted Mad tortoise owner disease or MTOD if you like:D. Seriously though just wash your hands before and after touching your tort:)
  6. Pure Tortoise Power

    Pure Tortoise Power Active Member

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    I think the reason why tortoises are able to live up to 200 years is because they have high resistance or immunity to diseases. Or maybe just die to their slow metabolism? Don't really know.
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  7. Blackdog1714

    Blackdog1714 Well-Known Member

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    Zoonotic diseases are real- so are human diseases. Wash your hands people and don't touch other people even if you know them. Above all do not make contact with children. They are "incubated" in giant-size versions of petri dishes. It gives me the chills to think about it.
  8. Maro2Bear

    Maro2Bear Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Here’s an interesting article on the issue, - https://www.telegraph.co.uk/pets/news-features/eight-diseases-pets-can-pick-people/

    The best advice, as noted above:

    How to minimise the risk of your pet catching an illness from you
    The risk of trans-species transmission of diseases is far lower than same-species transmission. Your pet is safer in your presence than he or she would be socialising with other dogs and cats. That said, if you are concerned that you may be suffering from any of the conditions mentioned above, you should draw back from close contact with your pets. There is no need to ban them from the home, but you should institute strict hygiene measures.
    • Wash hands before and after petting, feeding and toiletting

    • Prevent pets drinking from toilet bowls
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  9. Ben02

    Ben02 Well-Known Member

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    MRSA is a interesting one. In hospitals now they sometimes take a sample of dead skin cells around the outside of the nostrils (this if for patients) and you can be a carrier of the bacteria but not have any symptoms. This bacteria can be extremely dangerous to very young children, the elderly or those who have a weak immune system.
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  10. tortilla4

    tortilla4 Member

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    Thank you all SO much for your advice. You are all so helpful and kind and I am grateful to have found this wealth of information! I feel much better about my sweet little Sally's wellbeing!!! :) Now if only I could stop getting sick myself!
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  11. TurtlTom

    TurtlTom New Member

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    Dear Tortilla4,
    This is the first time I have replied to a question.
    Many years ago a tortoise club member and well respected breeder Mrs. Sandy Ververka speaking at our meeting explained that there are Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria. Humans have one kind and reptiles have the other.
    You should not worry about infecting your reptiles. I understand that all of you owners just want the best for your pets but I believe in most cases you go way overboard with the things you're doing. Just give them similar living conditions and food similar to they had where the species came from and you can't go wrong. They have survived all these millions of years without us loosing sleep over whether their humidity got a little high or if we forgot to wash our hands.Keep it simple.
    Sincerely, Tom
  12. wccmog10

    wccmog10 Active Member

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    Humans can have both gram positive and gram negative bacteria as pathogens. I’d have to do some research, but I’m sure that tortoise can have both as well. My thought process is (as previously mentioned), the bigger concern is tortoise-tortoise transmission and not human-tortoise transmission. This is why you need to wash your hands between groups of animals. If it is a disease that can be transmitted from humans to tortoises, washing your hands before handling them should help a lot. This way you don’t transfer any of the “bugs” to your tort, unless of course the pathogen is in some sort of open wound on your hand (where hand washing won’t be able to eliminate the bug). If this is the case the wound needs to be covered with something impermeable, such as rubber/latex/nitrile gloves. Usually you would touch an infected area or fluid with your hand, then touch the tortoise (or another person more likely) and transmit the disease. Washing hands before touching any animal eliminates any pathogens that are sitting on your hands waiting for a new host. There are certainly zoonotic diseases as well, as already mentioned, and once again hand washing is extremely important. Skin is a protective barrier to invaders, which is why cuts can be a big deal, as they are a tear in the barrier. What you are trying to do is prevent the pathogen from getting somewhere it can gain access into you body (eyes, mouth, mucous membranes, etc.). Hand washing means when you stick your fingers into your mouth, the bugs are already gone and cannot invade. This is also why you should never kiss your tortoise. Unlike a frog, it will not turn into a prince, so there is no reason to do it. The kissing puts the potential pathogens directly onto a mucous membrane, increasing the chances of transmission.

    PS. There is no reason to kiss a frog either, they can make you sick too.
  13. tortilla4

    tortilla4 Member

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    That is excellent advice Tom, and something I needed to hear! :) Thank you for the reassurance!
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  14. tortilla4

    tortilla4 Member

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    That makes a ton of sense and it sounds like an easy fix to my worries! Thank you so much!
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  15. TortillaTheTortioise

    TortillaTheTortioise Active Member

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    I always sanitize my hands and then wash them before and after handling my tortoise, it's foods and touching things in the enclosure, especially since I have other animals. Tortoises are more susceptible to respiratory infections etc when they have a low immune system which can be caused by stressed. I also believe different species of tortoises can give diseases to other species of tortoises. But I doubt your tortoise could catch a cold from you.

    Btw is your tortoises name Tortilla? Cause then they have the same name lol
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  16. tortilla4

    tortilla4 Member

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    Thank you for the advice! :) No, her name is Sally I just call her tortilla every now and then because I think it’s funny! :) Excellent name choice!
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  17. Cathie G

    Cathie G Well-Known Member

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    I caught that too! hahahaha and don't kiss your tortoise either without a clean finger available.
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  18. Cathie G

    Cathie G Well-Known Member

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  19. Bee62

    Bee62 Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    I grew up with a lot of animals: birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, dogs, cats and tortoises. I never recognize that I spread germs to any pet or they to me. I was a healthy child and washed my hands not too often..... I ate unwashed fruits from our garden. My grandparents often said: Dirt is good for your guts.:eek: Animals and humans mostly have a good working immune system.
    I sometimes give my torts a nose to nose rub. They overlived it until now.... and I am too.:D Btw: I don`t wash my nose after the nose to nose rub...:D
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  20. katieandiggy

    katieandiggy Well-Known Member

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    I grew up around horses and farm animals from around 5 years of age. I would handle the animals all day long and never wash my hands, I would pick up the horse poo with my bare hands (gross I know) that’s how we were taught to do it. I would then eat my lunch, normally a sandwich, with the same unwashed hands. I was never at the doctors as a child, never caught anything from any of them. I’m a bit more cautious as I am older and I do always wash my hands after handling my tortoise, but I doubt I will catch anything from him. You would probably have more change of catching something from a dog when the owners let it lick their faces.
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