Author(s): Centers for Disease Control
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Abstract Turtles and other reptiles are reservoirs of Salmonella and have long been a recognized source of Salmonella infection in humans. Small turtles have posed a particular danger to young children because these turtles might not be perceived as health hazards and can be handled like toys. Salmonella infections in children can be severe and can result in hospitalization and occasionally in death. The association between Salmonella infection in children and exposure to turtles led to a 1975 law prohibiting the sale or distribution of small turtles (i.e., those with a carapace of <4 inches in length) in the United States. That prohibition led to a substantial decline in human salmonellosis cases associated with turtles. However, because the prohibition is not fully enforced and contains exceptions (e.g., sales for educational purposes), human turtle-associated cases continue to occur. This report describes several recent cases of turtle-associated salmonellosis reported to CDC by state and local health departments since September 2006, including a fatal case in an infant. These cases illustrate that small turtles remain a source of human Salmonella infections. Although ongoing public education measures aimed at preventing reptile-acquired Salmonella infections are helpful, prohibiting the sale of small turtles likely remains the most effective public health action to prevent turtle-associated salmonellosis.
This article was published in MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep
and referenced in Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals