Five multi-state outbreaks of Human Salmonella infections linked to small turtles
by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
May 11, 2012
Contact with reptiles (such as turtles, snakes, and lizards) and amphibians (such as frogs and toads) can be a source of human Salmonella infections. Small turtles, with a shell length of less than 4 inches, are a well-known source of human Salmonella infections, especially among young children. Because of this risk, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned the sale and distribution of these turtles since 1975. Amphibians and reptiles can carry Salmonella germs and still appear healthy and clean. Salmonella germs are shed in their droppings and can easily contaminate their bodies and anything in areas where these animals live. Reptiles and amphibians that live in tanks or aquariums can contaminate the water with germs, which can spread to people.
CDC continues to collaborate with public health officials in multiple states and the FDA to investigate 5 overlapping, multistate outbreaks of human Salmonella infections linked to exposure to turtles or their environments (e.g., water from a turtle habitat). Because the majority of ill persons who reported contact with small turtles purchased the turtles from a street vendor, it is difficult to determine the original source of the turtles.
The 5 multistate outbreaks of human Salmonella infections linked to small turtles are numbered in the order in which they were identified. The details of each investigation are described in detail at >http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/small-turtles-03-12/index.html
If any of you are involved with any type of regulatory activities involving street vendors illegally selling small turtles related to these outbreaks, please contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1-800-CDC-INFO or visit www.cdc.gov.
Educational posters on the risk of Salmonella from amphibians or reptiles are available for distribution to case-patients, pet stores, street vendors, etc:
• Educational Poster: After you touch amphibians or reptiles, wash your hands so you don't get sick! (PDF - 1 page)
• In Spanish: Afiche: Si toca anfibios o reptiles, ˇlávese las manos para no enfermarse! (PDF - 1 page)
The number of ill persons identified in each state (as of May 10, 2012) is as follows: Alaska (2), Alabama (1), Arizona (3), California (21), Colorado (5), Delaware (3), Georgia (3), Illinois (1), Indiana (1), Kentucky (1), Massachusetts (3), Maryland (6), Michigan (2), Minnesota (1), Nevada (4), New Jersey (7), New Mexico (3), New York (24), North Carolina (1), Ohio (2), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania (9), South Carolina (3), Texas (12), Virginia (3), Vermont (1), and West Virginia (1).