CDC: Don't kiss your pet turtle; Salmonella

37 people sick in 13 states after Salmonella outbreak linked to pet turtles

It started with three people in CT who were reported to contract salmonella from the shelled reptiles.

Pet turtles are at the heart of a multistate outbreak of salmonella outbreak, the CDC said Tuesday.

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

There have been 37 cases in 13 states since March, and the outbreak has sent at least 16 people to the hospital, though there have been no deaths. In accordance, 32 percent of those people hospitalized were children under the age of 5.

All turtles carry salmonella bacteria, and recent research has suggested that the smallest ones may be the most harmful for spreading these unwanted germs, which lead to diarrheal illness, fever, chills and stomach pain.

In Illinois, four people have been diagnosed with the disease after either handling pet turtles or after coming into contact with the turtles' habitat, the CDC says.

Some of the patients said they bought turtles from street vendors or markets or received them as gifts, the CDC said. Since 1975, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has banned selling and distributing turtles with shells less than four inches long as pets because they are often linked to salmonella infections.

People are starting to get sick with salmonella, and pet turtles are linked in the majority of cases.

The outbreak strain has been identified as Salmonella Agbeni.

We reported in 2015 about a Pediatrics journal account of eight outbreaks across 41 states, covering 473 illnesses.

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". Approximately a third of the patients are aged younger than 5 years.

"This close genetic relationship means that people in this outbreak are more likely to share a common source of infection", the CDC's statement said. The result linked salmonella infections in U.S. citizens with a bacteria carried by those tiny turtles.

The CDC expects this outbreak to continue because consumers might be unaware of the risk of Salmonella infection from small turtles.

Although this may not come as a surprise to anyone suspicious of murky green aquarium water, turtles aren't exactly the healthiest pets.

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