Health Tip: Avoid Getting Sick from Pet Turtles

Try taking these precautions

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(HealthDay News) -- Did you know that the sale of most turtles less than four inches long has been banned in the United States since 1975?

This is because turtles pose a risk of spreading disease, especially to children. The ban by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has prevented an estimated 100,000 cases of salmonella annually in children, the agency says.

What can be done to prevent salmonella contamination from turtles that are sold legally? The National Center for Infectious Diseases offers these suggestions:

  • Do not have a turtle in any household that includes children under age 5, the elderly or people who have lowered resistance to disease due to chronic illness, pregnancy or chemotherapy. A family expecting a child should remove any pet reptile or amphibian from the home before the infant arrives.
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately after handling turtles or their cages, or after contact with pet feces. Do not touch your face, other people or any surface until hands are washed.
  • Wash/disinfect surfaces that the turtle or its cage has touched.
  • Do not allow turtles to roam freely about a home or living area, and especially do not allow them in food preparation areas (including kitchen sinks).

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