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More Salmonella Infections Tied to Tiny Turtles

Small turtles have caused a rash of illnesses in the United States over the past two years, accounting for at least 347 Salmonella illnesses since May of 2011, according to federal health officials.

That figure, reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Friday, marks an increase from the 248 cases linked to tiny turtles that CDC counted in its previous update on December 6, 2012.

A full 62 of these newly counted cases are part of two newly identified Salmonella outbreaks linked to small turtles that were reported for the first time in this update. This development brings the total number of tiny turtle outbreaks up from six to eight.

A total of 28 people have been hospitalized as a result of their illnesses.

Of the 347 known victims, 70 percent are children age 10 or younger.

States with the highest numbers of cases include California (62), Texas (33), New York (49) and Pennsylvania (32). Illnesses have been reported in 37 states and the District of Columbia.

Among the victims for whom information is available, 70 percent report contact with turtles prior to illness, and 90 percent of these people say that those turtles were small – in this case defined as having a shell length of 4 inches or less.

Of the people who report purchasing these turtles, 33 percent say they bought them from street vendors, while 11 percent got the mini reptiles at pet stores. 

The following is a summary of the eight outbreaks:

Outbreak 1: Salmonella Sandiego, Strain A and Salmonella Newport, Strain A

Number of individuals sickened: 88

New cases since December 6, 2012 report: 4

States affected and number of victims: California (16), Georgia (2), Illinois (3), Massachusetts (4), Maryland (6), Minnesota (1), North Carolina (1), New Jersey (9), New Mexico (5), Nevada (3), New York (22), Pennsylvania (10), South Carolina (1), Texas (3) and Virginia (1)

Illness onset date range: August 3, 2011 to January 15, 2013

Outbreak 2: Salmonella Pomona, Strain A

Number of individuals sickened: 19

New cases since December 6, 2012 report: 1

States affected and number of victims: California (3), Colorado (1), Massachusetts (1), Maryland (1), New Jersey (2), Nevada (1), New York (4), Pennsylvania (3), Texas (1), Virginia (1) and Vermont (1)

Illness onset date range:  December 9, 2011 to January 22, 2013

Outbreak 3: Salmonella Poona, Strain A and Salmonella Sandiego, Strain C

Number of individuals sickened: 51

New cases since December 6, 2012 report: 18

States affected and number of victims: Alabama (1), Arkansas (2), Arizona (2), California (4), Georgia (4), Illinois (3), Indiana (1), Kansas (2), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (3), Maine (1), Michigan (1), Missouri (1), Mississippi (1), North Carolina (1), New Jersey (2), New York (5), Pennsylvania (2), Rhode Island (1), South Carolina (2), Tennessee (5) and Texas (6)

Illness onset date range: October 20, 2011 to December 27, 2012

Outbreak 4: Salmonella Sandiego, Strain B 

Number of individuals sickened: 7

New cases since December 6, 2012 report: None

States affected and number of victims: Colorado (3), Nevada (2) and Texas (2)

Illness onset date range: February 25, 2012 to September 29, 2012

Outbreak 5: Salmonella Pomona, Strain B

Number of individuals sickened: 88

New cases since December 6, 2012 report: 3

States affected and number of victims: Alaska (2), Alabama (1), Arizona (3), California (23), Colorado (2), District of Columbia (1), Delaware (3), Georgia (3), Illinois (2), Maryland (1), Michigan (2), Missouri (1), North Carolina (1), New Mexico (6), Nevada (4), New York (2), Ohio (2), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania (1), South Carolina (5), Tennessee (1), Texas (14), Virginia (3), Wisconsin (1) and West Virginia (3)

Illness onset date range: May 23, 2011 to December 20, 2012

Outbreak 6: Salmonella Poona, Strain B

Number of individuals sickened: 32

New cases since December 6, 2012 report: 11

States affected and number of victims: Arizona (1), California (16), Nevada (1), New York (1), Pennsylvania (5), Texas (7) and Wisconsin (1)

Illness onset date range: April 1, 2012 to January 23, 2013

Outbreak 7: Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:-, Strain A

Number of individuals sickened: 19

New cases since December 6, 2012 report: First report of this outbreak

States affected and number of victims: Maryland (2), New York (4), Ohio (1), Pennsylvania (7), and South Carolina (5)

Illness onset date range: June 8, 2012 to September 27, 2012

 Outbreak 8: Salmonella Typhimurium, Strain A

Number of individuals sickened: 43

New cases since December 6, 2012 report: First report of this outbreak

States affected and number of victims: Alabama (1), Florida (1), Massachusetts (4), Maryland (7), Missouri (1), Mississippi (1), New Jersey (10), New York (11), Pennsylvania (4), South Carolina (1), Tennessee (1), and Washington, D.C. (1)

Illness onset date range: July 7, 2012 to January 15, 2013

In order to avoid illnesses from these small animals, CDC recommends taking the following precautions:

  • Do not purchase turtles with a shell length of less than 4 inches in size.
  • Do not give turtles with a shell length of less than 4 inches in size as gifts.
  • Keep turtles out of homes with children younger than 5 years old, elderly persons, or people with weakened immune systems.
  • Turtles and other reptiles should not be kept in child care centers, schools, or other facilities with children younger than 5 years old.

 

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