Small Pet Turtles May Be Harmful To Your Child's Health

Armen Hareyan's picture
Advertisement

Children and Pets

The Boston Public Health Commission is reminding the public that contact with baby turtles can pose a serious health risk to infants, small children, and adults with impaired immune systems as they can be natural hosts to Salmonella, a group of bacteria that can cause severe illness but rarely death.

Recently, a four-week old infant in Florida died of infection traced to Salmonella pomona, a bacteria that was also found in a pet turtle in the home.

Small turtles and other reptiles can carry bacteria called Salmonella. If exposed, the Salmonella bacteria can cause a person to have diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, and headache. Symptoms usually begin 6 to 72 hours after a person is exposed to the Salmonella bacteria, and can last for 2 to 7 days.

Advertisement

Anyone can get Salmonella, but infants and young children as well as the elderly, and people who have a hard time fighting off illness due to pregnancy, cancer, chemotherapy, organ transplants, diabetes, liver problems, or other diseases are at risk for serious problems.

Salmonella bacteria occur naturally in turtles. Turtles with Salmonella usually do not appear sick. Also, turtles do not shed Salmonella bacteria all of the time. Just because a turtle appears well or tests negative for Salmonella bacteria does not mean that it is not infected.

ADVICE TO PARENTS AND OTHER PERSONS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CARE OF CHILDREN:

Advertisement