Recent Salmonella outbreaks associated with small turtles


Recent Salmonella outbreaks associated with small turtles

Outbreak strains of the bacteria infect 124 people from 27 states, CDC reports.
May 15, 2012
By staff

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is currently investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella linked to small turtles. Outbreak strains of Salmonella Sandiego, Salmonella Pomona and Salmonella Poona have been reported in 124 people from 27 states, the CDC says. Nineteen of those infected have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported at this time. Young children are considered particularly susceptible to Salmonella infection from turtles, and of the 124 cases recently reported, 67 percent are children 10 years of age or younger.

Initial results of the investigation indicate that exposure to turtles or their environments (for example, water from their habitats) is the cause of these outbreaks. Most infected individuals who reported contact with small turtles prior to illness purchased them from a street vendor, which makes it difficult for investigators to determine the original source.

According to the CDC, the numbers of illnesses reported in each state are as follows:

  • Alabama (1)
  • Alaska (2)
  • Arizona (3)
  • California (21)
  • Colorado (5)
  • Delaware (3)
  • Georgia (3)
  • Illinois (1)
  • Indiana (1)
  • Kentucky (1)
  • Maryland (6)
  • Massachusetts (3)
  • 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)
  • Vermont (1)
  • Virginia (3)
  • West Virginia (1)

It is well known that contact with turtles as well as other reptiles and amphibians can be a source of human Salmonella infections. These species can carry Salmonella germs, which are shed in their droppings and can contaminate their bodies and their surroundings. Humans are at risk of infection after handling turtles or coming in contact with contaminated sources in the environment.