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CDC urges reptile owners not to "kiss or snuggle your turtle" due to Salmonella outbreak

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are urging reptile owners not to “kiss or snuggle your turtle” due to an ongoing “multistate outbreak” of salmonella linked to “small turtles”.

As of Wednesday, there were 26 illnesses and nine hospitalizations across 11 states.

These states include:

California, Montana, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Kentucky, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

There were a total of four cases in PA.

Photo courtesy Vlad Chetan

Although any turtle can carry Salmonella germs that can spread to you and make you sick, turtles with shells less than 4 inches long are a known source of illness, according to the report from the CDC.

“A federal law bans the sale and distribution of turtles with shells less than 4 inches long as pets because they have caused many illnesses, especially in young children,” officials stated. “Despite the ban, these turtles can sometimes be found illegally online and at stores, flea markets, and roadside stands.”

The CDC warned that pet turtles of any size can carry Salmonella germs in their droppings even if they look healthy and clean. These germs can easily spread to their bodies, tank water, and anything in the area where they live and roam.

"You can get sick from touching a turtle or anything in its environment and then touching your mouth or food with unwashed hands and swallowing Salmonella germs", according to the report.

People are urged to seek medical attention of they develop a 102°F fever, being vomiting, show signs of dehydration and experience bloody and/or persistent diarrhea for more than three days. Those with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop more serious health outcomes as a result of infection, although most people experience diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps anywhere from six hours to six days post-infection and recover in a week or less.

Read more here from the CDC: