Baby turtles may be cute, but officials say they may be causing cases of salmonella in Maryland and elsewhere.
Federal officials are investigating multiple outbreaks of Salmonella across dozens of states. The Centers for Disease Control says that in Maryland, reptiles might be responsible.
Six people in Maryland have fallen ill with Salmonella after being exposed to baby turtles. Five victims were hospitalized, but all recovered.
The CDC is investigating three reptile-associated outbreaks across 16 states that have affected 63 people since the fall. The people who got sick in Maryland reported buying baby turtles -- it's illegal for unauthorized dealers to sell them. It is perfectly safe to have reptiles as pets, but it's a good idea to wash your hands after handling them and best to keep them out of the kitchen.
There are more than one thousand types of Salmonella bacteria, and they are widespread and fairly resilient in the environment.
The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene warns that many baby animals including turtles, chicks, ducklings, and rabbits, which, of course, are commonly associated with Easter, can pass not just salmonella but other harmful bacteria as well.