By NewsDesk  @bactiman63

CDC and public health officials in several states are investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium infections linked to small turtles.

As of February 20, 2021, a total of 22 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from seven states–Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey, California, Florida and Connecticut.

Pennsylvania has reported the most cases with 9. Of the nine laboratory-confirmed Salmonella Typhimurium illnesses. Eight of the cases have occurred in people living in Philadelphia or Delaware counties. Seven of the cases have occurred among children, ranging between 0 to 10 years old. One adult death has occurred in which salmonellosis was one of the contributing factors.

Man holding small tortoise, close-up/CDC

“While we continue to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of this investigation, the cause of these serious Salmonella cases has been linked to small pet turtles,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said. “The majority of the cases have occurred in children living in the southeastern part of the state.  This is concerning, as Salmonella can be particularly serious for children. Anyone who has purchased a small pet turtle and became ill should contact their health care provider, their local health department or the Department of Health at 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258).”

CDC says a common supplier of small turtles has not yet been identified. It is often difficult to determine a common farm or supplier of small turtles due to the illegal practice of sales of small turtles by mobile vendors who do not stay in a single location.

Salmonellosis is a serious infection of the gastrointestinal tract. Diarrhea is the most common symptom, but other symptoms may include fever, headache, nausea and vomiting. In addition, salmonellosis can cause severe illness (e.g., bloodstream infection, bone and joint infection, meningitis) and can be particularly serious for young children, the elderly, and persons with weak immune systems.

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