CDC - Multistate Outbreaks of Human Salmonella
Infections Linked to Small Turtles
Salmonellosis is caused by the bacteria Salmonella. Over 90% of reptiles have Salmonella, which they shed in feces and spread to their skin and environment. Salmonella bacteria and the salmonellosis disease that it causes can be deadly.
Across the United States, Salmonella causes an estimated 1.4 million cases of illness and 400 deaths each year. In Los Angeles County, 10% of all reported cases of salmonellosis involved persons who had direct or indirect contact with reptiles. Red-eared slider turtles were the most common reptile in over 50% of these cases.
Contact with these baby turtles and all other reptiles can be a very serious health risk to infants, small children, and adults with weakened immune systems.
If you are considering buying a baby turtle, or any other reptile, remember: no matter how clean you keep your pet, its housing, etc., it still sheds Salmonella. If you already own a turtle or any other reptile, wash its housing and dishes, etc., outside, or sanitize your wash area. Most important, always your wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after touching your pet and their housing.