KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Bacteria like salmonella in undercooked foods can make your child sick, but so can your child’s pet.

Salmonellosis is the illness one gets from salmonella bacteria. In rare cases it can be serious, spreading to the blood, bones or even fluid around the brain. Signs and symptoms include diarrhea which may contain blood, severe belly cramping and pain, and fever.

According to Darci Hodge, Children’s Hospital Infection Control Director, pets like iguanas, turtles and snakes can cause salmonellosis, though some of those pets are illegal in Tennessee. Salmonella bacteria is often found in animal feces, says Hodge, particularly reptiles. When you handle the pet, you can get the bacteria on your skin.

Food like poultry, eggs and beef that are not thoroughly cooked or fruit and vegetables not thoroughly washed can also cause salmonellosis.

Everyone is at risk for the 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.

To prevent salmonellosis, 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.

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

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