The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced the occurrence of three multistate outbreaks of Salmonella infections. In the investigation announcement released on March 30, CDC posted the following:
- A total of 66 persons infected with outbreak strains of Salmonella Sandiego, Salmonella Pomona, and Salmonella Poona have been reported from 16 states.
- 11 ill persons have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.
- 55% of ill persons are children 10 years of age or younger.
- Results of the epidemiologic and traceback investigations indicate exposure to turtles or their environments (e.g., water from a turtle habitat) is the cause of this outbreak.
- Turtles with a shell length of less than 4 inches in size should not be purchased or given as gifts.
One case of Salmonella Poona associated with these outbreaks has been reported in Michigan. Following is the outbreak map to date and a table listing the number of cases associated with each outbreak by state.
Although not a food safety issue per se, this is another reminder that certain reptiles are significant potential sources of Salmonella infection. Small turtles having a shell length of less than 4 inches are a well-known source of human Salmonella infections, especially among young children. Because of this risk, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned the sale and distribution of these turtles since 1975.
The FDA maintains a web page with current information on Salmonella risks associated with turtles. The web page includes several links to consumer fact sheets on this topic. The URL is: http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/GuidanceComplianceEnforcement/ComplianceEnforcement/ucm090573.htm