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Not Teenagers, Not Mutants, Not Ninjas; Just Little Disease-Spreading Turtles

Posted Oct 20 2009 10:05pm
Nearly 25 years ago, the FDA banned the sale of turtles with a carapace length of less than four inches to reduce turtle-associated Salmonella transmission, especially among young children who love to pick up handle the tiny pets. The ban apparently has been flouted, because turtles are still available on pet store shelves and have been linked to disease outbreaks.

During a 2007 outbreak, youngsters who handled a small turtle were at a 41-fold increased risk of contracting Salmonella, compared with controls (95% CI 6.9 to unbounded), the CDC's Julie R. Harris, PhD, and colleagues reported online in Pediatrics.

"Small turtles continue to be sold and pose a health risk, especially to children," the researchers said. "And many people remain unaware of the link between Salmonella infection and reptile contact."
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