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CDC warns pet turtle related salmonella cases on the rise

12 October 2019

Officials are warning of a salmonella outbreak, linked to pet turtles.

So far, 21 people have been sickened and seven have been hospitalized in the 13 states. No deaths have been reported.

Of 17 people interviewed, 12 reported contact with pet turtles before becoming ill.

Officials don't have any more details on the outbreak at this time, though the CDC says it will return with an update once more info is available.

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According to the CDC, turtles can appear healthy but still carry Salmonella germs in their droppings, which can spread to their surroundings.

The CDC says not to kiss or snuggle turtles, and not to let the pets roam freely in areas where food is prepared.

Avoid cleaning these items in the kitchen or any other location where food is prepared, served, or stored.

Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap right after touching the animal or anything in the area where they live, including after handling pet food and treats, cleaning cages or tanks or picking up toys or bedding.

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CDC recommends that turtles, other reptiles, and amphibians (like frogs) not be kept in households with children younger than age 5, older adults, or people with weakened immune systems. This takes an average of 2 to 4 weeks.

"Epidemiologic and traceback evidence" indicate that contact with pet turtles is the likely source of the outbreak, according to the CDC. Individuals reported purchasing the turtles from pet stores or receiving them as a gift. Testing of three outbreak isolates using standard antibiotic susceptibility testing methods by CDC's National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) laboratory confirmed these results.

Cases have been reported in California, Vermont, Washington state, Illinois, Nebraska, New Jersey, Michigan, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, New York and Tennessee.

Reptiles, including turtles, can have salmonella on their bodies, even though they're clean.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the sales and distribution of turtles with shells less than four inches long.

CDC warns pet turtle related salmonella cases on the rise