Pet Turtles Blamed For Salmonella Outbreak in 13 States

Tabitha Dunn
August 31, 2017

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

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now investing the case of the linkage between the pet turtles with the Salmonella outbreak that has affected many people in U.S.

So far, 37 people have been infected in 13 states, including CT, with illnesses starting between March 1, 2017 and August 3, 2017, the CDC reported. 37 cases of people sick with salmonella infection are linked with pet turtles, and 16 of them resulted in hospitalizations. Twelve (32%) ill people are children 5 years of age or younger.

Turtles often carry salmonella bacteria on their skin or shells, but the bacteria do not make them ill. Nearly half of the 33 people interviewed by the CDC said they had come in contact with a turtle or its environment.

Some of those interviewed report buying a turtle from a flea market or street vendor, or getting the turtle as a gift.

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The CDC recommends that people do not keep turtles as pets in households with young children.

CDC. Multistate outbreak of SalmonellaAgbeni infections linked to pet turtles, 2017.

To prevent people from getting sick, the CDC published a handy, kid-friendly fact sheet, telling people "don't kiss or snuggle with your turtle". That's why since 1975 the FDA has banned the sale of small pet turtles.

Through genome sequencing of the Salmonella agbeni bacteria at the heart of this most recent outbreak, scientists have learned that the bacteria turtles harbor is very similar to the bacteria that sends humans running to the restroom or the hospital.

The agency has so far reported 37 cases of salmonella illness, 11 of which occurred in NY. The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment. "This close genetic relationship means that people in this outbreak are more likely to share a common source of infection", the CDC reported on its website. Pet reptiles in general seem to be suspect, according to the CDC. If you experience any of these symptoms, especially if you've come in contact with a reptile recently, call your doctor, Nichols says.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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