Salmonella outbreak linked to pet turtles affecting people in 13 states: CDC

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Officials are warning of a salmonella outbreak, linked to pet turtles. Seven people have been hospitalized; there have been no deaths.

"Epidemiologic and traceback evidence" indicate that contact with pet turtles is the likely source of the outbreak, according to the CDC. Specifically, the red-eared slider turtle was implicated along with other turtles that were larger than 4 inches in length. The ages of those infected range from less than one year to 80, with a median age of 24.

Turtles can carry Salmonella germs in their droppings while appearing healthy and clean. People can then get sick after touching a turtle or anything in their habitats.

Salmonella infections can cause diarrhea, vomiting, fever and abdominal cramps. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment. However, in some cases, the illness may be so severe that a person requires hospitalization.

Children under the age of five, senior citizens and individuals with weakened immune systems have a greater risk of infection and severe illness.

Any turtle can carry diseases, and if you do come in contact with a turtle, or any reptile for that matter, you should make a habit of washing your hands afterwards.

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Don't let turtles roam freely in areas where food is prepared or stored, such as kitchens. This handwashing practice should take place whenever someone feeds a pet turtle or cleans its habitat, as well. Individuals reported purchasing the turtles from pet stores or receiving them as a gift.

WGS analysis did not identify antibiotic resistance in the 12 bacterial isolates available from ill people. CDC officials also using standard antibiotic susceptibility testing methods from the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System to test 3 outbreak isolates, which also did not detect antibiotic resistance.

The CDC has linked an outbreak strain of salmonella to pet turtles, the agency said in an advisory today.

"Salmonella can cause serious or even life-threatening illness", said Hanna Oltean, an epidemiologist with the Department of Health.

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

They're illegal to sell in the USA anyway.

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