People have been warned not to kiss or cuddle their pet turtles after a salmonella outbreak linked to small turtles has sickened at least 26 people across 11 states.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it is investigating a multistate outbreak of salmonella after nine of at least 26 victims were hospitalized across 11 states.
Salmonellosis is the result of infection from one of 2,000 strains of salmonella bacteria and primarily impacts the intestinal tract and occasionally the blood, causing diarrhea, fever, chills, abdominal discomfort and vomiting.
There is a federal ban against the sale of pet turtles with shells smaller than four inches long because they have led to many illnesses, particularly in young children, the CDC said.
The CDC said: ‘Despite the ban, these turtles can sometimes be found illegally online and at stores, flea markets, and roadside stands. Pet turtles of any size can carry Salmonella germs in their droppings even if they look healthy and clean.
‘These germs can easily spread to their bodies, tank water, and anything in the area where they live and roam. You can get sick from touching a turtle or anything in its environment and then touching your mouth or food with unwashed hands and swallowing Salmonella germs.’
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it is investigating a multistate outbreak of salmonella after nine of at least 26 victims were hospitalized across 11 states (stock pic)
In Tennessee, six people were sick. In New York, it was three, and in Pennsylvania, it was four. The CDC said that the outbreak may include other states not highlighted on the map because many people recover without medical care and so are not tested for salmonella
The range of people infected with salmonella is between less than a year old and 64 years, with a median age of 14.
There have been no fatalities, though the CDC said the current tally of infections is likely an undercount.
Symptoms usually begin between six hours and six days after infection and typically resolve within another four to seven days without requiring specific medical intervention.
Some people have no symptoms. However, illnesses can sometimes be more severe and even lead to hospitalization.
People with other severe illnesses, weakened immune systems, children under 12 months old and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to serious side effects – or even death.
Salmonella infects more than 1.3 million people every year, leading to 26,500 hospitalizations and 420 deaths annually.
Foods that can become contaminated with salmonella are almost always animal in origin, such as eggs. Salmonella can also lurk in any unbaked or uncooked flour used to make dough or batter.
The bacteria are passed from feces of people or animals to other people or animals.