undergroundnewsroom.com April 26, 2018

Beware of Turtle: Pet Reptiles Cause Salmonella Outbreak in 13 States

31 August 2017, 01:37 | Rodolfo Quinn

They’re cute but tiny adorable turtles could put your kids at risk for salmonella poisoning. Do not buy them as pets


Three people in CT have gotten sick from turtles, according to federal officials.

The CDC is warning pet owners to be on the lookout after at least 13 states, including IL, have reported cases of Salmonella caused by pet turtles.

According to an advisory note posted on the CDC website Tuesday, 37 Salmonella Agbeni cases were reported in 13 states from the beginning of March this year to August 3. No deaths have been reported, but 16 people have been hospitalized. More than 30 percent of the cases involve people under the age of 5.

According to CDC officials, there were epidemiologic and laboratory findings that linked "the human SalmonellaAgbeni infections to contact with turtles or their environments, such as water from a turtle habitat".

In interviews with nine ill people about where their turtles came from, six reported buying a turtle from a flea market or street vendor, or receiving the turtle as a gift. Since 1975, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has banned selling and distributing turtles with shells less than four inches long as pets because they are often linked to salmonella infections.

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The CDC has generally encouraged pet seekers - particularly homes with small children, elderly adults or people with compromised immune systems - to steer clear of shelled reptiles.

We reported back in 2009 about a salmonella outbreak in the previous two years that sickened more than 100 people. Whole genome sequencing showed that the Salmonella Agbeni isolated from ill people in this outbreak is closely related genetically to the Salmonella Agbeni isolated from turtles. The average of age of those cases was 4, but the infections affected people from 1 to 94 years old.

Heck, NPR reported about salmonella in pet turtles on the air way back in 1971. The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment.

The agency advises against buying small turtles or giving them as gifts. Pet reptiles in general seem to be suspect, according to the CDC.

Children are especially at risk, because, as The Post's Dina ElBoghdady wrote in 2012, "kids couldn't resist kissing the toylike reptiles or placing them in their mouths, sometimes contaminating themselves with the salmonella commonly found on turtles".

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