The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced this past week that they are investigating an outbreak of Salmonella that stretches over 11 States. My mind immediately went to some kind of tainted food or drink as the culprit. We've had several recalls on frozen fruits in the past couple of months, so I thought maybe a batch got through before it was noticed, but nope! The source of this nasty bacterial infection seems to be cute little pet turtles. Here is what we know about the outbreak and what states were affected.


Animals that Carry Salmonella

When we had our beloved pet Bearded Dragon, Dipper, I learned that there are actually lots of animals that can pass Salmonella to their people. Poultry, hamsters and rodents, farm animals, but Reptiles and amphibians like lizards, frogs, and turtles are a common source. The CDC reported that "A federal law bans the sale and distribution of turtles with shells less than 4 inches long as pets because they have caused many illnesses, especially in young children. Despite the ban, these turtles can sometimes be found illegally online and at stores, flea markets, and roadside stands."


How to Prevent Salmonella Infection

The CDC recommends the following ways to protect yourself and your family from contracting Salmonella from pets.

1. WASH YOUR HANDS. Since the bacteria is spread through, well, poo, this is the most important way to protect yourself.

2. Do NOT kiss a turtle. Or any other similar animal that may have come in contact with its own waste.

3. Keep your animal out of the kitchen or where food is prepared

4. Keep things clean. Thoroughly disinfect any surfaces or toys they may touch. And make sure to regularly maintain their habitat with cleaning products and tools dedicated just for them. If you use your kitchen or bathroom sink disinfect it properly after use.


What to do if you Contract Salmonella

If you have Salmonella, you will know it! Horrible stomach cramps, diarrhea, and even a fever will develop after 8-72 hours. If you think you may have Salmonella, preventing dehydration is key. The Mayo Clinic says that symptoms can last up to ten days but it could even be a month or so before your body feels normal again. Some folks do become dehydrated or have severe reactions to this infection and require hospitalization. Actually, 9 of the reported 26 people suffering from the current outbreak are currently admitted and undergoing treatment. The CDC believes that because most people treat this problem at home, the number of reported cases from the outbreak is lower than what they expect. There are likely more folks affected than they know if people have not needed medical services to diagnose the cause of their nasty symptoms.

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What States are Affected?

  • California
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Virginia
  • Ohio
  • Illinois
  • Missouri
  • Georgia
  • North Carolina
  • Kentucky
  • Tennessee

Tennessee is the most affected so far with 5-6 people officially diagnosed with Salmonella linked to a pet turtle.


The moral of the story is that turtles may be adorable, but DO NOT smooch or snuggle them. And wash your hands, y'all!

LOOK: Here are the pets banned in each state

Because the regulation of exotic animals is left to states, some organizations, including The Humane Society of the United States, advocate for federal, standardized legislation that would ban owning large cats, bears, primates, and large poisonous snakes as pets.

Read on to see which pets are banned in your home state, as well as across the nation.

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