THURSDAY, Feb. 2 (HealthDay News) -- The sale of pet turtles was
banned three decades ago in the United States, but the small
reptiles are still available and continue to infect young children
with salmonella, a new report warns.
Because of the health danger, pet turtles are inappropriate pets
in homes with young children or other high-risk people, such as
pregnant women, seniors and those with weak immune systems,
according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
The report, published by the CDC in the Feb. 3 issue of the
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, describes an outbreak of 132 human salmonella infections in 18 states between August 2010 and September 2011. Many of the infections were traced to exposure to small turtles (those with shell lengths of less than 4 inches).
Two-thirds of the infections occurred in children younger than
10. Salmonella infections in children can be severe and lead to
hospitalization, the report authors noted. No deaths were reported
in that outbreak.
The 1975 ban on the sale of small turtles led to a large decline
in human salmonella infections. However, these infections continue
to occur because the turtles are sold illegally at fairs, flea
markets and on the street, the CDC said.
The report authors suggested some strategies to reduce the
number of human salmonella infections caused by turtles:
- Increased enforcement of existing regulations against the sale
of small turtles.
- Tougher penalties for the illegal sale of small turtles.
- More state and local laws regulating the sale of small
Other reptiles carry salmonella, but the little turtles' size
makes them especially risky because children handle them as toys
and may place them in their mouths.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about
pet turtles and salmonella.