Don't kiss your pet turtle; Salmonella — CDC

Kristen Gonzales
August 31, 2017

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

However, the cases increased to a high number, making the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise people to stop having turtles inside their homes.

The illnesses were reported from March 1 to August 3 of this year.

At least 16 of those people were hospitalized and 32 percent of those infected were children under the age of 5. Twelve of the cases were in children 5 or younger.

Turtles often carry salmonella bacteria on their skin or shells, but the bacteria do not make them ill.

Almost half of the infected people said they had contact with turtles or their environments, such as water from a turtle habitat, before getting sick.

Doctors and researchers started asking questions of the victims and found that six had bought a turtle from a flea market or a street vendor - or had received a turtle that turned out to be a salmonella-harboring gift.

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The federal government has banned the sale of the tiniest turtles - those under 4 inches long - since 1975 because they can spread salmonella.

People are starting to get sick with salmonella, and pet turtles are linked in the majority of cases.

We reported back in 2009 about a salmonella outbreak in the previous two years that sickened more than 100 people. According to the CDC, between 2011 and 2013, 473 people in 41 USA states suffered from salmonella infections, and all of those were totally linked with reptiles.

Symptoms of salmonella infection include fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

"This close genetic relationship means that people in this outbreak are more likely to share a common source of infection", the CDC's statement said. "These outbreaks are a reminder to follow simple steps to enjoy pet reptiles and keep your family healthy", CDC said. They say all turtles can carry salmonella bacteria even if they look healthy and clean. The good news is that most people feel better after five to seven days of being sick.

People should be careful when they have contact with turtles and other reptiles.

The CDC will continue to investigate the outbreak, which it expects to grow.

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