Salmonellosis – United States

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CDC in the United States and public health officials in several states are investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium infections linked to contact with small turtles.

As of February 20, 2021, a total of 22 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from seven states. Illnesses started on dates ranging from August 27, 2020, to January 16, 2021.

The true number of sick people in an outbreak is likely higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses. This is because many people recover without medical care and are not tested for Salmonella.

Sick people range in age from less than 1 to 59 years, with a median age of 6. Thirty-six percent are female. Of 19 people with information available, 8 were hospitalized. One death has been reported from Pennslyvania.

CDC advises that you always take steps to stay healthy around your pet turtle: wash your hands, play safely, and keep supplies and the pet area clean.

Do not buy small turtles with shells less than 4 inches long. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration bans the sale and distribution of these turtles.

Photo: Salmonella (red) invading human cells.

Infection with salmonella in developed countries generally results in food poisoning. The organisms enter through the digestive tract and must be ingested in large numbers to cause disease in healthy adults. Between 60% to 80% of salmonella infections cases go un-diagnosed.

Risk factors for salmonella infections include a variety of foods. Meats such as chicken and pork have the possibility to be contaminated. A variety of vegetables and sprouts may also have salmonella. Lastly, a variety of processed foods such as chicken nuggets and pot pies may also contain this bacteria.

Salmonella was first visualized in 1880. The name Salmonella was not used until 1900.

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