Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Small Turtles

Since August of 2011, hundreds of onsets of Salmonella Sandiego, strain A and Salmonella Newport, strain A have been reported in the United States. Although no deaths have resulted from the outbreak, many have been hospitalized in 15 states. Most recently, six new cases of the disease were reported in California, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. The cause has recently been determined to be small breeds of turtles. Six current outbreaks have been linked directly to exposure to these cute reptiles with shells four inches of smaller.

Although the Food and Drug Administration placed a nationwide ban on the sale of turtles this size in 1975, many people still sell and purchase the animals. The problem lies in the large number of turtles and other reptiles that are infected with Salmonella. As they relieve themselves, remnants of the strain live on their shells. Then when humans handle the turtles, it transfers easily to our hands and mouths.

Children are the most easily effected by this outbreak, as they have weaker immune systems than adults. According to the CDC, approximately 63 percent of those that have become ill recently are 10 years old or younger. And just because you've had your turtle longer than the outbreak does not mean you're in the clear. A majority of those sickened by Salmonella from reptiles lived with the pets much longer.

Salmonella is treatable if you act quickly. If you experience symptoms including fever, vomiting, headache, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps contact your physician right away. These symptoms become obvious 12-72 hours after infection. Here are a few tips to keep you and your loved ones from being contaminated with Salmonella from small turtles and other reptiles:

  • If you must purchase a turtle, make sure the shell is larger than four inches in size.
  • Do not purchase small turtles or other reptiles/amphibians as gifts.
  • Keep turtles out of your home if children, elderly persons, or people with weakened immune systems live there.
  • Reptiles and small turtles shouldn't be present at child care centers or schools where they can cause an outbreak in kids.
  • Reptiles/amphibians should not be allowed to wander throughout your home, especially where food is prepared.
  • When cleaning habitats, aquariums, or other supplies, do not do so in the kitchen sink. After cleaning them, use bleach and disinfectant where they were cleaned.
  • Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling any reptile or amphibian, its home, or anything that comes into contact with them.
  • Watch for symptoms of Salmonella infection in both yourself and your loved ones. Contact a doctor immediately if you believe someone has been infected with the disease.

As personal injury attorneys with over 40 years of combined experience, it is important to our firm to warn our readers about potential health hazards that we're aware of. Although we do not usually handle medical claims in our office, we have a vast array of professionals that we have worked with in the past. If you or someone you know has questions about Salmonella or any other infection, as well as personal injury claims, contact our office today and we'd be happy to discuss those with you.