CDC blames new Salmonella Oranienburg outbreak on pet turtles

People should wash their hands after handling a turtle

Federal health officials are warning about a salmonella outbreak linked to pet turtles. Seven people have been hospitalized, but there have been no deaths.

The CDC linked the outbreak to pet turtles after 12 of the 17 people who fell ill reported contact with the reptiles, according to the CDC.

Turtle droppings are often a source of salmonella bacteria, according to the CDC, which notes these germs can spread to other areas within the turtle's water tank or habitat. As a result, humans can get sick after touching a turtle or its habitat.

Six cases were reported in California. Other states where multiple cases were reported were Illinois, New York and Washington.

To avoid being infected with the Salmonella strain, those who come in contact with a turtle or its environment should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water. People also shouldn't let turtles roam around areas where food is being prepared.

Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria. The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most individuals recover without treatment. Households with these people should consider a different pet.

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The health agency is continuing to investigate the outbreak.

Epidemiologic and traceback investigations point to contact with pet turtles as the likely source of the outbreak. Individuals reported purchasing the turtles from pet stores or receiving them as a gift. CDC officials also using standard antibiotic susceptibility testing methods from the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System to test 3 outbreak isolates, which also did not detect antibiotic resistance.

Reptiles, including turtles, can have salmonella on their bodies, even though they're clean. Specifically, the red-eared slider turtle was implicated along with other turtles that were larger than 4 inches in length.

They're illegal to sell in the USA anyway.

This investigation is ongoing, and the CDC will provide updates when more information becomes available.

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