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A Consumer Tip to Avoid Salmonella: Don't Get Turtles as Pets

The Humane Society of the United States

Amid the Salmonella outbreak from peanut butter products, The Humane Society of the United States reminds consumers that they can avoid another source of Salmonella by not getting turtles as pets. Turtles and other reptiles carry the Salmonella bacteria and spread it to humans. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 74,000 Salmonella cases in the U.S. each year, or 6 percent, are related to reptiles and amphibians.

"Consumers can make a simple choice to protect their family's health by not getting turtles or other reptiles as pets," said Beth Preiss, director of the exotic pets campaign for The HSUS. "The trade in pet turtles is also detrimental to animal welfare and the environment."

The Salmonella risk from small turtles is so great that selling turtles less than four inches long has been prohibited in the United States since 1975. However, illegal sales continue. In 2007, an infant in Florida died from Salmonella from a pet turtle. Small children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are most susceptible to serious complications. For this reason, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that these groups avoid contact with turtles.

Health officials in Lewis and Clark County, Mont. report that at least four cases of Salmonella infection in the county in the past year were linked to pet turtles.

For public health, environmental and animal welfare reasons, turtles belong in the wild, not as pets. For more information, visit humanesociety.org/turtles.

Note: The HSUS also posts updated information on pet food and treat recalls at humanesociety.org/pets/pet_food_safety_center. Carolina Prime Pet, a manufacturer and distributor of dog treats, is voluntarily recalling four of its dog treats that contain peanut butter made by Peanut Corporation of America.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11  million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org