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Indiana among states listed in Salmonella outbreak linked to pet turtles

A Salmonella outbreak linked to pet turtles has infected 21 people in 13 states, including Indiana.
(Shutterstock/Simply Photos)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - A Salmonella outbreak linked to pet turtles has infected 21 people in 13 states, including Indana.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an investigation notice last week.

The outbreak is linked to the Salmonella Oranienburg strain, and has sent 7 people to hospitals. No deaths have been reported.

Evidence indicates that contact with pet turtles is the likely source of the outbreak.

Twelve of the 17 people who fell ill reported contact with a turtle.

Turtles can carry Salmonella germs in their droppings while appearing healthy and clean, according to the CDC. These germs can easily spread to their bodies, tank water, and habitats. People can get sick after they touch a turtle or anything in their habitats.

People who own or come in contact with turtles should take steps to stay healthy around their pet:

  • Wash your hands.
  • Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching, feeding, or caring for a turtle or cleaning its habitat.
  • Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.
  • Play safely.
  • Don’t kiss or snuggle turtles, because this can spread Salmonella germs to your face and mouth and make you sick.
  • Don’t let turtles roam freely in areas where food is prepared or stored, such as kitchens.
  • Clean habitats, toys, and pet supplies outside the house when possible.
  • Avoid cleaning these items in the kitchen or any other location where food is prepared, served, or stored.
  • Pick the right pet for your family.
  • Children under 5 years of age, adults aged 65 and older, and people with weakened immune systems are at a greater risk for serious illness. Households with these people should consider a different pet.
  • Educate customers and employees.
  • Pet stores, breeders, or others that sell or display turtles should provide educational materials.

Symptoms of Salmonella Infection

  • Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria.
  • The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment.
  • In some people, the illness may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other places in the body.
  • Children younger than 5 years, adults 65 years and older, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness.

This investigation is ongoing and CDC will provide updates when more information is available.