Tiny pets cause hospitalizations across US: 'Don't kiss or snuggle your turtle'

Pet turtles have sickened more than two dozen people across the US including nine people who were hospitalized.

Tiny turtles have been linked to a Salmonella outbreak in 11 states.

Two strains of Salmonella are likely connected to the turtles, announced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last Friday, as it investigates the outbreak.

‘Don’t kiss or snuggle your turtle,’ stated the CDC, ‘And don’t eat or drink around it.’

Twenty-six people were infected from October 27, 2022, to July 16. The highest number of infections occurred in Tennessee with six, followed by Pennsylvania with four and New York with three, according to the CDC. Illinois, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia had two cases each, while California, Missouri and Kentucky each had one person fall ill.

‘The true number of sick people in an outbreak is likely much higher than the number reported, and this outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses,’ stated the CDC.

‘This is because many people recover without medical care and are not tested for Salmonella. In addition, recent illnesses may not yet be reported as it usually takes 3 to 4 weeks to determine if a sick person is part of an outbreak.’

Selling turtles with shells shorter than four inches has been banned in the US since 1975, as they are the pet reptiles most frequently been tied to Salmonella outbreaks. Children playing with the tiny turtles have commonly been infected.

Though prohibited, tiny turtles have still been sold illegally in stores, online and at flea markets.

Salmonella symptoms include stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea and fever. In rare instances, the disease can spread from the gut to the bloodstream and to the brain and spinal chord areas.

‘CDC advises that you always take steps to stay healthy around your pet turtle: wash your hands, play safely, and keep supplies and the pet area clean,’ stated the agency.

‘Do not buy small turtles with shells less than 4 inches long.’

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