CDC warns pet turtles linked to salmonella outbreak

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating a salmonella outbreak linked to pet turtles.

There have been 37 reported cases of turtle-related salmonella across 13 states. No deaths have been reported, but 16 people have been hospitalized after contracting the bacteria.

The illnesses began to appear March 1 and diagnoses continued until August 3. Almost half of the 33 people interviewed by the CDC said they had come in contact with a turtle or its environment.

Officials said the outbreak could continue.

CDC officials warn not to buy small turtles as pets or give them as gifts. It says all turtles can carry salmonella bacteria even if they look healthy and clean.

The organization is also encouraging pet owners to avoid kidding or snuggling with turtles and to wash their hands after touching them.

Although turtles of any size can carry salmonella, tiny turtles are especially risky.

Check the map count here to see the latest areas affected. 

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