Turtle Alert: Buyers Beware

October 3, 2012  |  

Food isn’t the only culprit of Salmonella poisoning in the United States. If you haven’t been keeping up with the news lately you may have missed a story warning parents about the dangers of buying turtles as pets. Since 1975, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) placed a nationwide ban on sales of the reptiles with shells 4 inches or smaller due to a spike in Salmonella-related sicknesses. Yes, pet turtles are illegal.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of Salmonella cases linked to tiny breeds of the reptile is on the rise. As of last week, there are six current outbreaks of the bacteria-borne illness directly linked to exposure to the illegal contraband.

Though they look harmless, they are breeders of the bacteria and should be avoided at all costs. The smaller the turtle, the more likely your child is to attempt placing it in his or her mouth and children also tend to touch their pet turtles and then forget to wash their hands. Remnants of the Salmonella strain which lives on their shells is then transferred to your unsuspecting child. Another cause of contamination is washing their tanks in the kitchen sink which leads to cross-contamination of food and eating utensils. Funny enough my son asked me about purchasing a small pet only a week ago and I was considering a turtle. Now that I’m informed we’ll be looking at safer options for our family. Spread the word, and avoid spreading Salmonella!

Words By: Sid Powell

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