CDC Warns Against Kissing, Snuggling Turtles
By Jason Hall
August 22, 2023
A salmonella outbreak affecting 11 U.S. states is believed to be caused by pet owners getting too close to their turtles, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
An update shared last Friday (August 18) confirmed that 26 individuals in 11 states were reported to be infected, which included nine hospitalizations.
The number of cases in each state include the following per CDC.gov:
- Tennessee- 6
- Pennsylvania- 4
- New York- 3
- Georgia- 2
- Illinois- 2
- North Carolina- 2
- Ohio- 2
- Virginia- 2
- California- 1
- Kentucky- 1
- Missouri- 1
The first case of salmonella suspected to be linked to pet turtles was reported in October 2022, with at least one new case reported during each following 10 months.
Thirteen of the infected patients said they purchased their pet turtle online, from stores, or from a reptile show, however, officials have not determined a common source of the turtles in relation to the outbreak. The CDC said turtles of varying sizes can transfer the disease to humans, but turtles with shells smaller than 4 inches are more likely to do so, which is why tinier turtles are prohibited from being sold and purchased as pets.
"Most people with Salmonella infection have diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. Symptoms usually begin six hours to six days after infection and last four to seven days. However, some people do not develop symptoms for several weeks after infection and others experience symptoms for several weeks," the CDC wrote on its website. "Salmonella strains sometimes cause infection in urine, blood, bones, joints, or the nervous system (spinal fluid and brain), and can cause severe disease.
"Symptoms usually begin six hours to six days after infection and last four to seven days. However, some people do not develop symptoms for several weeks after infection and others experience symptoms for several weeks."