The selling of small turtles as pets stopped in 1975 due to outbreaks of salmonellosis but over the past decade there has been an increase in outbreaks around the country—and the question is why? Walters et al. (10.1542/peds.2015-1735) opted to look at 8 multistate outbreaks of salmonellosis attributable to small turtles to better understand how these outbreaks started, and what might have prevented them?
The authors performed epidemiologic environmental investigations looking at human salmonella infections and traced them back to water samples from turtle habitats. The outbreaks themselves added up to just shy of 500 cases from more than 40 states as well as Washington DC and Puerto Rico. Children were primarily affected. So how does this happen if turtles cannot be sold as pets in this country?
The authors trace the outbreaks to these large turtle habitats or farms visited by children who then return to their home communities and spread the infection to others—usually children as well. Clearly federal sales restrictions are not enough to stop small turtles from getting into the hands of children. Have you experienced cases of salmonella in your community? Have you asked about turtle exposure?
We’d love for you to shell us, oops –we mean tell us about your experience with salmonellosis from turtles and what was done to stop the spread of this infection by offering a response to this blog, posting a comment with the article on our journal site, or sharing your thoughts on our Facebook or by Twitter.