CDC says turtles are to blame after 16 people hospitalized with salmonella

People infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Agbeni by state of residence as

These tiny turtles carry salmonella on their shells, on their bodies, and in their droppings, so any contact with any turtle should be followed by washing hands with soap.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning people not to pet or kiss turtles, and to refrain from giving them as gifts to others.

The CDC says the illnesses began to appear March 1 and diagnoses continued until August 3.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 37 people have been infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Agbeni, including three from CT. There have been no deaths, but 16 people were taken to the hospital, CDC officials said.

Thirty-two percent of the people who were infected were children 5 or younger.

According to CDC officials, there were epidemiologic and laboratory findings that linked "the human SalmonellaAgbeni infections to contact with turtles or their environments, such as water from a turtle habitat".

In almost half of the cases reported by the CDC, the patients have said that they had some kind of contact with a turtle, by interacting either with them or with the turtle's environment, such as the water in a habitat.

"Do not buy small turtles as pets or give them as gifts", the CDC said.

This is not the first time salmonella is linked with turtles.

Pet turtles are at the center of a multi-state salmonella outbreak, the CDC stated.

Salmonella infections cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps within 12 to 72 hours in most affected patients, and the illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, although severe cases may require hospitalization, according to the CDC.

Keep turtles out of homes with children younger than 5 years, adults older than 65 years, or people with weakened immune systems. The result linked salmonella infections in USA citizens with a bacteria carried by those tiny turtles.

The agency said that the outbreak is likely to continue since many may not be aware of the risk of contracting salmonella infection from small turtles. The FDA prohibited the distribution and sale of small turtles - those with shells four inches and smaller - in 1975. If you experience any of these symptoms, especially if you've come in contact with a reptile recently, call your doctor, Nichols says.

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