Public Health Advisory: FDA Re-Emphasizes Warnings to Consumers on Risks of Pet Turtles
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is urgently reminding the public that contact with turtles can pose a serious health risk to infants, small children, and adults with impaired immune systems, as they can be natural hosts to Salmonella, a group of bacteria that can cause severe illness and death. Recently, a four-week old infant in Florida died of an infection caused by Salmonella pomona, a bacteria that was traced to a pet turtle in the home.
The sale or distribution of live turtles of any size is prohibited in New Jersey, pursuant to N.J.A.C 8:23-2.1 (copy attached). Reports of turtle sales should be directed to the local health department where the activity is occurring. The NJDHSS, Infectious and Zoonotic Disease Program can assist local health departments in halting the sale or distribution of turtles and in investigating potential human cases of turtle-associated illness.
Salmonella can be found on the outer skin and shell surfaces of turtles and can be transmitted either directly from contact with the turtle or its feces, or indirectly through contact with the animal's water, as would occur when cleaning the turtle habitat. Turtles carrying Salmonella usually do not appear to be sick. Salmonella may be shed in their feces on an intermittent
basis, therefore a single negative fecal test does not prove they are Salmonella-free.
Although anyone can acquire a salmonellosis infection, the risk is highest in infants, young children, the elderly, and others with lowered natural resistance to disease. Pregnancy, cancer, chemotherapy, organ transplant, diabetes, and liver problems may all make persons more susceptible to infections. Gastrointestinal symptoms begin in 6 to 72 hours (usually 12 to
36 hours) after exposure to Salmonella organisms, and generally last for two to seven days.
The FDA warning can be viewed in it's entirety at: http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2007/NEW01604.html
Blogger's Note: Thanks to Mike Morris for forwarding this. It's great information going into the summer.