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90 Percent Chance Your Pet Turtle Has Salmonella

We usually focus on food-borne illness here, but when pets poise a serious threat  to children due to salmonella we want to help get the word out. 

HealthDay Reporter Steven Reinberg today wrote about the Centers for Disease Control finding that 103 children got salmonella poisoning in the last half of 2007 from their pet turtles.  No deaths were reported, but dozens of children were treated at hospitals after being infected with salmonella.

The sale of small turtles under 4 inches has been banned in the United States since 1975.  Nevertheless, CDC estimates there are two million pet turtles in the country.  Reinberg reports that:

According to the report, cases were reported in all but 15 states, with most cases occurring in California, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Texas.

 Two of the infected children included a 13-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl who became stricken after swimming in an unchlorinated in-ground pool owned by the family of the older girl. Two pet turtles, purchased at a South Carolina pet store and owned by the family of the older teen, were allowed to swim in the pool, the CDC reported.

(CDC’s Julie) Harris said many people aren’t aware of the risk of Salmonella infections from pet turtles. "Only 20 percent of these cases [in the report] said they were aware there was a connection between Salmonella infection and reptile exposure," she said.

 Up to 90 percent of turtles carry Salmonella, Harris said. "This is a very serious infection, especially for small children," she added.

 The infection is spread from contact with the turtles, but the contact doesn’t have to be direct, Harris said. "We have one case where a baby was bathed in a sink that turtle waste was disposed in," she said.

Check out the entire HeathDay story here.

 

  • austin

    i have a couple pet water turtles that are in about 7inch deep swimming pool in a fence in my backyard. i clean them with a toothbrush and hose water i wash my hands as soon as i am done with them can i still get salmonella

  • Obvious

    It would probably not be too swell of an idea to use that toothbrush to brush your teeth with.

  • Joshua

    How long does it take salmonella to infect the body if I touch my turtle everyday?

  • sarah lacount

    WHAT types of turtle’s have salmonella??????
    and is there a cure?

  • caitlin

    i love turtles they r my favorit animal and i want to know how big they get and what do they need to have if i get one. thank you caitlin

  • katherine

    UMM I BOUGHT A TURTLE HIS NAMES BOOGIE I DNT KNOW HOW OLD HE IS BUT HES THE SAME SIZE AS THE PICTURE ON TOP OF THE TURTLE SO HOW WOULD I KNOW IF MY TURTLE HAS THAT? DO THE SHOW ANY SYMTHOMES

  • greg

    Just treat the turtles the same way you would treat raw chicken – which also carries salmonella. Avoid contact with open sores or the mouth, and wash your hands thoroughly after handling and you will be fine. The reason children have a problem is because they have generally bad hygiene, and are always sticking their hands in their mouths, etc. Use common sense and you will be fine.

  • Scarlett

    I have been thinking about getting a pet turtle.What if I just put it in my aquarium and don’t touch it.Will I still get salmonella? do turtles have to be touched? and if I have fish in that aquarium too, will they be affected by salmonella? Thanks
    -Scarlett

  • Chasity Churchwell

    Ah! i had no idea about this.
    But i also just got my baby turtle yesterday! :]
    But Uhm, I do touch it alot.. Like everyday..
    What if i foret to wash my hands…?
    Once or twice.
    What happends?

  • kelsie

    what kind of turtle is this? i am looking for a tiny pet turtle that wont grow any bigger than 4 or 5 inches…can someone please help m e?