Salmonella cases linked to small pet turtles

Small turtles can carry and spread salmonella and other diseases

Small turtles can carry and spread salmonella and other diseases

Officials are urging people to be careful with pets after Salmonella cases are linked with small pet turtles.

Five Michigan Salmonella cases in the last year-and-a-half have been connected to three multi-state outbreaks, most of these cases are found in children.

Since 1975 it has been illegal to own a turtle with a shell smaller than four inches. These animals pose the biggest risk because children will put them in their mouths.

James Averill, state veterinarian at the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development says turtles have been linked to these cases but other animals like snakes, rodents, and frogs can also carry salmonella, “Whether it’s rodents, reptiles, amphibians; if you have them as a pet you really should make sure you’re washing your hands thoroughly and properly after handling them to reduce the risk of diseases and bacterial infections such as salmonella.”

Averill says you can prevent salmonella by:

  • not buying small turtles
  • keeping reptiles out of homes with small children or people with weakened immune systems
  • avoid letting reptiles roam indoors
  • keep animals away from food preparation and eating areas
  • always wash hand thoroughly after handling animals

For more information about salmonella outbreaks you can visit the Center for Disease Control’s web page .

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