Don't hug your turtle - Salmonella infections linked to contact with pet turtles

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Sulcata tortoise owned by
Jennifer Underwood
State health officials are working with local and federal public health partners to investigate Salmonella infections linked to contact with pet turtles.

So far only two cases of Salmonella illness are linked to pet turtle contact in Washington in this multi-state outbreak, one each from Kitsap and Whatcom counties. Both people report contact with pet turtles, and one person was hospitalized.

The Department of Health said that “People should know that reptiles and amphibians carry Salmonella, and they can best prevent getting and spreading the illness by learning safe pet handling techniques.”

Reptiles like turtles, lizards, and snakes, and amphibians such as frogs can have Salmonella bacteria on their bodies, even when they are otherwise healthy and clean. The germs also get on the animal's tank and other items or surfaces the animal may have come in contact with.

Prevent salmonellosis by always washing your hands after handling reptiles and amphibians. Keep pets and their equipment out of your kitchen or anywhere food is prepared, served, or eaten. Clean reptile and amphibian habitats outside your home to avoid cross-contaminating surfaces.

Updated with photo by Jennifer Underwood


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