An outbreak of i Salmonella /i linked to pet turtles has sickened 37 people in more than a dozen states, CDC reported Tuesday. Illnesses started on dates ranging from March 1 to August 3.
At least 16 of those people were hospitalized and 32 percent of those infected were children under the age of 5. Those with weakened immune systems, adults over 65 years old, and young children below 5 years old are most vulnerable to severe infection.
Turtles often carry salmonella bacteria on their skin or shells, but the bacteria do not make them ill. Almost half of 33 patients responding to questions said they'd had contact the week before with pet turtles, their food, tank or habitat. Some claimed that they had purchased the turtle from a street vendor or flea market while some received the animal as gift.
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.
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On Tuesday, the agency said 13 states are now investigating outbreaks of salmonella linked to contact with the hard-shelled reptiles. 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.
Salmonella infection symptoms include fever, diarrhea and abdominal pain. This close genetic relationship means that people in this outbreak are more likely to share a common source of infection.
CDC. Take care with pet reptiles and amphibians. "These outbreaks are a reminder to follow simple steps to enjoy pet reptiles and keep your family healthy", the CDC said in a statement. The result linked salmonella infections in U.S. citizens with a bacteria carried by those tiny turtles. The FDA prohibited the distribution and sale of small turtles - those with shells four inches and smaller - in 1975. "They've busted two turtle vendors in Montgomery County in the past two weeks: One for selling the turtles to a Silver Spring store; the other for hawking them at the Six Flags parking lot". The salmonella outbreak is expected to continue for more days due to lack of information about the risk of the disease among people.
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