KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – We’ve all heard of illnesses you can get from bacteria like salmonella in under-cooked foods,  but did you know your child’s pet can also make him sick?

A salmonella infection can be more than just a pain in the gut, but there are steps your family can take to avoid the nasty bacteria.

Dr. Shannon Cohen with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital says salmonella bacteria can cause an infection. In rare case,s it can be serious spreading to the blood, bones, or even fluid around the brain.

Symptoms are diarrhea which may contain blood, severe belly cramping and pain, and fever.

Children can get salmonella from pets like iguanas, turtles and snakes. The bacteria is often found in animal feces, particularly reptiles. When you handle the pet, you can get the bacteria on your skin.

It can also come from food like poultry, eggs and beef that’s not thoroughly cooked or fruits and vegetables that aren’t thoroughly washed.

Everyone is at risk for salmonella infection, but those who are most likely to become very ill are young children and babies, older people, those with compromised immune systems, and people who take antacids or stomach acid suppression medication.

Wash your hands often and thoroughly, especially before eating and after holding animals. Be cautious with pets. It’s best if young children don’t keep reptiles, especially turtles, as pets.

Be careful about food preparation. Avoid eating raw or undercooked eggs, poultry, or meat. Avoid cross-contamination of foods.

Don’t consume unpasteurized milk or juices. The consequences can be very serious for children who become sick, including renal failure and even death.