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CDC declares another salmonella outbreak linked to small turtles over

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said the fourth of eight multistate salmonella outbreaks linked to small turtles appears to be over Friday.

Small turtle Image/CDC

Small turtle Image/CDC

The outbreak, Salmonella Pomona, strain A that was reported from 11 states is now not under investigation any longer. The total number of people infected in this outbreak stands at 19.

Overall, four of the eight outbreak investigations are over, the current one named above and three others on April 3.

A total of 391 persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella have been reported from 40 states and the District of Columbia from the eight reported multistate outbreaks. 63 people required hospitalization for their illnesses.

Seven out of 10 people infected  were in children 10 years of age or younger, and 33% of ill persons are children 1 year of age or younger.

All eight outbreaks were linked to exposure to small turtles based on epidemiologic and environmental investigations.

Small turtles are a well-known source of human Salmonella infections, especially among young children.

In 1975, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the commercial sales of turtles of less than 4 inches in this country. More than 90% of reptiles are asymptomatic carriers of Salmonella.

The CDC offers the following advice to the public concerning small turtles:

· Do not purchase turtles with a shell length of less than 4 inches in size.

· Do not give turtles with a shell length of less than 4 inches in size as gifts.

· Keep turtles out of homes with children younger than 5 years old, elderly persons, or people with weakened immune systems.

· Turtles and other reptiles should not be kept in child care centers, schools, or other facilities with children younger than 5 years old.

After having just handled a turtle, this young child was appropriately washing his hands, which potentially could have been contaminated with Salmonella bacteria that may have been carried by the pet turtle in this classroom. Image/CDC

After having just handled a turtle, this young child was appropriately washing his hands, which potentially could have been contaminated with Salmonella bacteria that may have been carried by the pet turtle in this classroom. Image/CDC

· Contact with other reptiles (snakes and lizards) and amphibians (frogs and toads) can also be a source of human Salmonella infections. If you or a child has contact with an amphibian or reptile, or their water or habitat, wash your hands thoroughly. Supervise the handwashing of the child to ensure they do a good job.

· If you buy a turtle, make sure the shell length is greater than 4 inches.

Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

Turtles as Pets

“Many people don’t know that turtles and other reptiles can carry harmful germs that can make people very sick. For this reason, turtles and other reptiles might not be the best pets for your family, especially if there are children 5-years-old and younger or people with weakened immune systems living in your home.” -Casey Barton Behravesh DVM, DrPH, Deputy Branch Chief, Outbreak Response and Prevention Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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