Turtle-linked Salmonella outbreak sickens 37 in 13 states

by Joy Montgomery August 31, 2017, 1:34
Turtle-linked Salmonella outbreak sickens 37 in 13 states

These tiny turtles carry salmonella on their shells, on their bodies, and in their droppings, so any contact with any turtle should be followed by washing hands with soap.

Thirty-seven people in 13 states are sick after a Salmonella outbreak linked to pet turtles, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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. 37 cases of people sick with salmonella infection are linked with pet turtles, and 16 of them resulted in hospitalizations. More than 30 percent of the cases involve people under the age of 5.

Although both humans and turtles can harbor the bacteria, it doesn't make turtles sick, according to the CDC.

Almost half of the 33 people that the CDC interviewed said they had come in contact with turtles or its environment, such as water from the turtle's habitat. Six of nine people interviewed said they'd bought the turtle from a flea market or street vendor, or received it as a gift.

The Food and Drug Administration has banned the selling of turtles with shells smaller than four inches since 1975 due to their salmonella connection.

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For those who do have pet turtles at home, the CDC advises for owners to keep them contained and prevent them from going near any food preparation areas.

The outbreak strain has been identified as Salmonella Agbeni. According to the CDC, between 2011 and 2013, 473 people in 41 U.S. states suffered from salmonella infections, and all of those were totally linked with reptiles.

"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.

Heck, NPR reported about salmonella in pet turtles on the air way back in 1971.

People should be careful when they have contact with turtles and other reptiles. The agency said it expected the outbreak to continue because customers might not be aware of the risk of Salmonella from small turtles. The result linked salmonella infections in United States citizens with a bacteria carried by those tiny turtles.

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