Outbreak of Salmonella Again Traced To Pet Turtles

From the WebMD Archives

Thirty-seven people across 13 states have contracted salmonella infection from contact with pet turtles, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday.

The agency has for years warned Americans that reptiles such as turtles can be a potent source of the potentially dangerous bacterium, which attacks the gastrointestinal system.

In fact, the CDC notes that "since 1975, the FDA has banned selling and distributing turtles with shells less than 4 inches long as pets because they are often linked to salmonella infections, especially in young children."

In the the latest outbreak, illnesses began to appear on March 1 and diagnoses continued until Aug. 3, the agency said. No deaths have yet been reported, but 16 people have required hospitalization. The CDC says the outbreak may not yet be over.

The agency's advice? "Do not buy small turtles as pets or give them as gifts. All turtles, regardless of size, can carry Salmonella bacteria even if they look healthy and clean."

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