Pet turtles linked to multistate Salmonella Agbeni outbreak

Pet turtles linked to multistate Salmonella Agbeni outbreak

Pet turtles linked to multistate Salmonella Agbeni outbreak

Turtles are known to carry the salmonella bacteria on their shells or skin but they do not get sick from the bacteria.

Pet turtles are at the heart of a multistate outbreak of salmonella outbreak, the CDC said Tuesday.

People started getting sick on March 1, according to a statement on the outbreak by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC reported that at least 37 people in 13 states - including Connecticut, New Jersey, and NY -were infected between March 1 and August 3, 2017. There have been no deaths, but 16 people were taken to the hospital, CDC officials said. In accordance, 32 percent of those people hospitalized were children under the age of 5.

According to the CDC, turtles and other reptiles or amphibians can contaminate households with Salmonella germs from their feces, so it is not necessary to touch or handle them to become infected. Nearly half of the 33 people interviewed by the CDC said they had come in contact with a turtle or its environment. Some claimed that they had purchased the turtle from a street vendor or flea market while some received the animal as gift.

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CDC and multiple states are investigating a multi-state outbreak of salmonella infections from people who were in contact with pet turtles.

We reported back in 2009 about a salmonella outbreak in the previous two years that sickened more than 100 people. Whole genome sequencing showed that the Salmonella Agbeni isolated from ill people in this outbreak is closely related genetically to the Salmonella Agbeni isolates from turtles.

To prevent people from getting sick, the CDC published a handy, kid-friendly fact sheet, telling people "don't kiss or snuggle with your turtle". Almost half of the victims were 5 or younger. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. This close genetic relationship means that people in this outbreak are more likely to share a common source of infection.

Very small turtles are especially risky, the CDC said. The result linked salmonella infections in U.S. citizens with a bacteria carried by those tiny turtles.

This outbreak is expected to continue since consumers might be unaware of the risk of Salmonella infection from small turtles.

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