If You Have a Pet Turtle, Be Careful

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Three people in CT have gotten sick from turtles, according to federal officials.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued its latest alert on Tuesday, saying a multistate outbreak of salmonella Agbeni suspected of being spread via turtle-human contact has sickened 37 people in 13 states since March.

The CDC reported that at least 37 people in 13 states - including Connecticut, New Jersey, and NY -were infected between March 1 and August 3, 2017. More than 30 percent of the cases involve people under the age of 5.

Almost half of the 33 people that the CDC interviewed said they had come in contact with turtles or its environment, such as water from the turtle's habitat. Six people reported that they had bought a turtle from a flea market or street vendor, or receiving the turtle as a gift.

The federal government has banned the sale of the tiniest turtles - those under 4 inches long - since 1975 because they can spread salmonella.

If you have a pet turtle, the CDC recommends against giving it free range in the house.

On Tuesday, the agency said 13 states are now investigating outbreaks of salmonella linked to contact with the hard-shelled reptiles. Whole genome sequencing showed that the Salmonella Agbeni isolated from ill people in this outbreak is closely related genetically to the Salmonella Agbeni isolated from turtles.

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Salmonella infections can lead to abdominal pain, diarrhea and blood in the stool.

According to the CDC, most of the reptiles can carry the salmonella bacteria.

Also, about one-third of the victims have been kids younger than 5, who are more susceptible to getting sick due to their little immune systems and, well, hygiene. "These outbreaks are a reminder to follow simple steps to enjoy pet reptiles and keep your family healthy", the CDC said in a statement.

If you are having a pet turtle inside your home and you frequently kiss or snuggle with your beloved turtle then stop doing that.

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.

People should be careful when they have contact with turtles and other reptiles.

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