According to the BBC Online, pet rodents can lead to salmonella poisoning.
The American Centers for Disease Control has reports of people, including young children, who have caught strains of the bacteria carried by pet rats, mice and hamsters.

Salmonella poisoning usually occurs from eating contaminated food such as meat and eggs. But the CDC discovered that a number of infections had come from animals kept as pets.

Dr. Stephen Swanson is an epidemiologist who helped study the outbreaks. And he says parents need to monitor their kids' exposure to rodents and other pets such as ferrets, guinea pigs, and even turtles and lizards. Also, it's crucial that kids' wash their hands after playing with them, since not washing up puts you at risk for the infection. Here are some more guidelines from the CDC on how to protect yourself and your kids:

  • Don't eat food or smoke while handling your pet.
  • Don't play with your pet in places where you prepare food.
  • Don't kiss your pet or hold it close to your mouth.
  • Don't let rodents or reptiles roam free throughout the house.
  • And always wash your hands after cleaning out the cage.

Experts say although catching salmonella from a pet isn't as common as getting it from food, it does happen. So follow these guidelines if you want to minimize the risk.