Friday, December 21, 2007

Baby Turtles - The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Not food related, but.....

North Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services is reminding parents that giving a pet turtle to their kids is not a good idea.

Four children were recently confirmed to have suffered from a Salmonella infection last summer, and one of them was hospitalized due to kidney failure. But they didn't become infected from food. Baby pet turtles were the source of the infection. Veterinarians tested the turtle belonging to one of the infected children, and found the identical strain of Salmonella to the one recovered from the sick child.

Pet turtles have long been a source of occasional Salmonella illnesses in children. Health agencies warn about this over and over again. In fact, the FDA banned the sale of these turtles more than 30 years ago - in 1975. Unfortunately, some of these are still finding their way into the hands of children. And the Salmonella that they carry is finding its way from the children's hands into their bodies.

Please be warned. Pet turtles and children - especially young children - are not a good combination.


  1. Do all reptiles carry this bacteria or just turtles? I remember my mother would never let me have a turtle when I was little because of the salmonella. Also, why is it that salmonella is found on turtles? And can it be cleaned off of them? Or is it a natural thing they just have on their skin?

  2. Hi Samantha,

    Pretty much all reptiles - snakes, lizards, etc. - can carry Salmonella. As with other animals, they carry the microbe in their intestines, so it is found in their droppings. As a result, it also contaminates their living areas.

    It's a major risk for kids, who like to pick up the turtles or lizards to play with them, and neglect to wash their hands after putting them back in their terraria or cages. Salmonella, as you know, is one of those diseases that is very good at living "hand-to-mouth".


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