Two salmonella cases in Western Washington linked to pet turtles

CDC blames new Salmonella Oranienburg outbreak on pet turtles

By News Desk

CDC blames new Salmonella Oranienburg outbreak on pet turtles By News Desk

According to the CDC 21 people in 13 states have fallen ill, and the majority reported being in contact with pet turtles. In interviews, 12 people, or 71 percent, of 17 ill people reported contact with a turtle. Food is the source of about 1 million of these illnesses.

Salmonella may cause fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal cramping, bloating, and diarrhea. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment. However, the illness may be so severe in some patients that they need to be hospitalized.

This is an ongoing investigation and the CDC will provide updates as they become available.

All turtles, regardless of size, can carry Salmonella bacteria even if they appear healthy and clean.

In addition, people who are interacting with a turtle should avoid touching their face and mouth; they should also wash their hands with soapy water once they're finished.

The CDC recommended that those who own or come in contact with pet turtles to always wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling a turtle or cleaning its habitat.

Supervise children's interactions with the animal, including post-encounter hand-washing.

The CDC says not to kiss or snuggle turtles, and not to let the pets roam freely in areas where food is prepared.

Clean habitats, toys, and pet supplies outside the house when possible.

In general, the CDC says to keep turtles away from children under five years of age, adults 65 years of age and older, and anyone else with a weaker immune system. Illnesses are more likely to be severe in the elderly and infants, according to the CDC, which estimates salmonella causes about 1.2 million illnesses in the US each year. The infection can spread to the intestines to the bloodstream and then other places in the body.

A Whatcom County woman in her 20s contracted salmonella and was part of a 13-state outbreak of illness linked to pet turtles, the Washington State Department of Health announced Friday, Oct. 11.

The health agency is continuing to investigate the outbreak.