A common choice therefore might have been to opt for a tortoise, lizard, or snake. However, these exotic reptilian pets also pose a health hazard, namely the threat of salmonellosis.

Salmonellosis is an infective disease and can be transmitted from more conventional pets such as dogs and cats. With reptiles, the salmonella bacteria can be transmitted directly from their skin and can cause a range of nasty symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and dehydration.

Some simple precautions can minimize the risk of infection. For example, it is recommended that reptile owners wash their hands following contact, and that they don't allow children to put the reptiles in their mouth or kiss them!

Last up, Polly want a cracker?

blue macaw parrot

Parrot fever

It's not just four-legged animals that can cause health risks for their human owners.

Parrots are popular pets, much loved for their intelligence and personality. However, birds such as parrots and macaws can pass on an infection called psittacosis. As that's a bit of a mouthful, the disease is often referred to instead as parrot fever.

Parrot fever is a pneumonia caused by the chlamydia bacteria, and typical symptoms include fever, diarrhea, and severe headaches. Although rarely fatal, it can be a serious condition and treatment with antibiotics is often prescribed.

The transmission of the disease from birds to humans is facilitated through handling a sick bird or cleaning its cage.

Signs that your pet may have the condition include shedding of feathers, inflamed eyes, and difficulty in breathing. Taking care to thoroughly wash your hands following handling will minimize the risk of acquiring parrot fever.