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Illegal ‘small’ turtles the source of six multistate salmonella outbreaks

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The multistate salmonella outbreak linked to tiny turtles has increased both in numbers and in geography according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) update Dec.6.

According to the latest numbers, a total of 248 persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Sandiego, Salmonella Pomona, and Salmonella Poona have been reported from 34 states. Of this number, 41 people required hospitalization for their illness.

There are currently six ongoing multistate outbreaks.

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

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.

· 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

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“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

 

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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