ATLANTA - First it was chickens, now it’s turtles.
Twenty-one people in 13 states — including Georgia — have been infected with a salmonella strain linked to pet turtles, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Seven people have been hospitalized.
Turtles can carry salmonella germs in their droppings. So, even though your pet looks healthy, these germs can easily spread to their bodies, tank water and habitats. People get sick after touching the turtle or anything in its habitat, the CDC states.
In August, the CDC updated its ongoing investigation of salmonella infections linked to backyard chickens and ducks. As of August 30, 1,003 people have been infected, and 175 have been hospitalized. Two people have died. The deaths were in Texas and Ohio.
Infection can be prevented, however. The CDC recommends the following safety tips:
- Always wash your hands with soap and water right after touching a turtle or cleaning its habitat. Adults should supervise handwashing by young children. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available.
- Don’t kiss or snuggle turtles, because this can spread salmonella germs to your face and mouth and make you sick.
- Don’t let turtles roam freely in areas where food is prepared or stored, such as kitchens.
- Avoid cleaning habitats, toys or turtle supplies in the kitchen or any other location where food is prepared, served or stored.
- Children under 5 years of age, adults aged 65 and older, and people with weakened immune systems are at a greater risk for serious illness. Households with these people should consider a different pet.
- Pet stores, breeders or others that sell or display turtles should provide educational materials.
For a complete list of recommendations, visit the Healthy Pets, Healthy People website section.
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