Turtles remain a popular pet with kids. In 1975 the U.S. banned the sale of ones smaller than 4 inches, but the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) estimates almost 2 million were being kept as pets as of 2006. They’re also responsible for one of the slowest outbreaks of salmonella we’ve seen in recent years.
The website Attorney At Law notes:
The AVMA said the current outbreak of salmonella, which began in 2007, has sickened 107 people in 34 states, with about one-third of those affected requiring hospitalization for the illness. So far, there have been no deaths linked to salmonella spread by turtles kept as pets, officials said.
…and from MSNBC:
The 2007-08 outbreak involved mostly children in 34 states; one-third of all patients had to be hospitalized. In many cases, parents didn’t know that turtles can carry salmonella.
The easiest way to avoid this is to not buy your kid a pet turtle. For those of you who have no intention of following that advice, just try to keep your turtle and your child from getting too intimate:
- don’t let your child swim with the turtle (that’s how two children got sick);
- don’t let your child put the turtle in her mouth (which is actually why the ban on small turtles was enacted in the first place);
- don’t let your turtle walk across food preparation surfaces, like kitchen counters;
- don’t bathe your baby in a sink where you’ve washed the turtle cage.