Prevent turtle-associated salmonellosis

What can be done to prevent turtle-associated salmonellosis?

  • Do not have a turtle in any household that includes children under 5, the elderly, or people who have lowered natural resistance to disease due to pregnancy, cancer, chemotherapy, organ transplants, diabetes, liver problems or other diseases. A family expecting a child should remove any pet reptile or amphibian from the home before the infant arrives.
  • Remember, turtles are cute, but contaminated. Handle all turtles and surfaces that have come in contact with turtles as if they are contaminated with Salmonella, because there is a good possibility that they are.

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  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately after handling turtles on their cages, or after contact with pet feces. Do not touch your face, other people or any surfaces until hands are washed.
  • Wash surfaces that the turtle or its cage has come in contact with.
  • Separate the turtle from possible contact with food:
    • Do not allow turtles to roam freely about a home or living area, and especially do not allow them in food preparation areas.
    • Kitchen sinks should not be used to bathe turtles or to wash their dishes, cages, or aquariums.
    • If bathtubs are used for these purposes, they should be cleaned thoroughly and disinfected with bleach.
  • Separate the turtle from contact with high-risk individuals:
    • Don't handle a turtle and an infant (e.g., feed, change diaper) at the same time.
    • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before handling an infant or preparing a baby bottle.
    • Persons at increased risk for infection or serious complications from salmonellosis (e.g., children under 5, the elderly, or people who have lowered natural resistance to disease due to pregnancy, cancer, chemotherapy, organ transplants, diabetes, liver problems or other diseases) should avoid contact with reptiles and amphibians and any items that have been in contact with them.
    • Turtles should not be allowed in childcare centers or nursing homes.
    • Turtles in public settings (e.g., zoos and exhibits) should be kept from direct or indirect contact with patrons except in designated animal-contact areas equipped with adequate hand-washing facilities
    • Food and drink should not be allowed in animal contact areas.
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