Tuesday, 21 November, 2017

Tiny turtles linked to salmonella outbreak, CDC warns

An outbreak of Salmonella infections could be the cause of three people getting sick An outbreak of Salmonella infections could be the cause of three people getting sick
Jerome Frank | 31 August, 2017, 01:38

The Centers for Disease Control said that turtles are implicated in a 13-state outbreak of salmonella that has left at least 37 people sickened and 16 hospitalized since March.

The agency said that the illnesses started to appear on March 1, and the diagnoses continued until August 3.

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. Twelve of the cases were in children 5 or younger.

In interviews, ill people answered questions about their contact with animals, and 45 percent of the 33 people interviewed said they had contact with turtles or their immediate environments before becoming sick, the CDC said.

It's important for people to know that pet turtles and other reptiles can lead healthy, happy lives with their adopted families, Nichols says, as long as they are cared for properly.

Warnings about real live turtles giving salmonella to the people who handle them have also been around for decades, but people keep getting sick, and that's not cool.

Normally a foodborne illness, salmonellosis is being linked to contact with turtles in these cases based on epidemiologic and laboratory findings. According to the CDC, between 2011 and 2013, 473 people in 41 USA states suffered from salmonella infections, and all of those were totally linked with reptiles.

Keep turtles out of homes with children younger than 5 years, adults older than 65 years, or people with weakened immune systems.

Very small turtles are especially risky, the CDC said.

Salmonella infection symptoms include fever, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Lab tests from the 37 patients revealed they all tested positive for Salmonella Agbeni, a rare strain of the bacteria that doesn't typically infect humans. "This close genetic relationship means that people in this outbreak are more likely to share a common source of infection", the CDC reported on its website.

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". Most people feel better within five to seven days.

According to the CDC, most of the reptiles can carry the salmonella bacteria.

People should be careful when they have contact with turtles and other reptiles.

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

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