If You Have a Pet Turtle, Be Careful

CDC officials broke down people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Agbeni

All turtles shed salmonella in their droppings, the CDC says, and salmonella can end up on their shells or skin - or in the water they swim in.

The disease has been reported in 13 states. That is because all turtles carry Salmonella bacteria - and the agency has traced an outbreak of Salmonella infections in people to pet turtles. 37 cases of people sick with salmonella infection are linked with pet turtles, and 16 of them resulted in hospitalizations. Sixteen people have been hospitalized, which is a very high percentage for this type of outbreak.

The CDC estimates that reptiles are behind more than 70,000 cases of salmonellosis in the United States per year. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. If you can't do that, clean items in a dedicated bin or bucket with warm soapy water.

Read CDC's recommendations (https://www.cdc.gov/features/salmonellapoultry/) CDC's%20recommendations%20 (https:/www.cdc.gov/features/salmonellapoultry/) for taking care of your backyard flock, which apply to all live poultry, regardless of the age of the birds or where they were purchased. However, if an individual ever has direct contact with one, it's important to clean that part of the body immediately.

The baby turtles are responsible for much of the salmonella because young animals tend to be stressed more when they are handled. No deaths have been recorded so far, but 12 of the cases were in kids five years old and younger, TIME reports.

The agency said that the outbreak is likely to continue since many may not be aware of the risk of contracting salmonella infection from small turtles.

Health officials performed a genome sequencing in 2015 using samples taken from small turtles sold by typical vendors in the streets.

If you are having a pet turtle inside your home and you frequently kiss or snuggle with your beloved turtle then stop doing that. Also, CDC has suggested the pet turtle owners to wash their hands properly after making any contact with their turtles. "These outbreaks are a reminder to follow simple steps to enjoy pet reptiles and keep your family healthy", the CDC said in a statement. And don't release unwanted animals into the environment. "Talk to your veterinarian about other options".

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