The Center for Disease Control is investigating salmonella outbreaks in people from Illinois and 12 other states linked to contact with pet turtles.
According to the CDC, from March 1 to Aug. 3, some 37 people have been infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Agbeni across 13 states, including four cases in Illinois. Sixteen of those infected have been hospitalized, although no deaths have been reported.
Nearly half of the infected people said they had contact with turtles or their environments, such as water from a turtle habitat, before getting sick. Six out of nine of those people said they bought the pet turtle from a flea market, street vendor or received it as a gift.
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Thirty-two percent of the people who were infected were children 5 or younger.
The CDC recommends that people do not keep turtles as pets in households with young children. The agency says those who have pet turtles should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling it or its tank.
Ten cases of turtle-related Salmonella outbreaks were also reported in Illinois in 2013.