They are adorable. Even irresistible.
But please, stop kissing your tiny turtles.
That’s the warning from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as Salmonella outbreak spreads to at least 13 states.
So far, at least 37 people have become sick with a strain of Salmonella in the multi-state outbreak, which began in March and continued through August.
“Don’t kiss or snuggle with your turtle,” the CDC warns in a handy guide titled the Trouble with Tiny Turtles.” This can increase your risk of getting sick.”
Nobody has died, but 16 people have been hospitalized and many have been young children.
The U.S. has been trying to combat this problem for a long time.
Between 2011-2013, there have been 8 multi-state outbreaks linked back to toying with tiny turtles.
The grim tally included making 473 sick people across 41 states. The victims were babies all the way up to a 94-year-old.
That’s even though the FDA has banned selling turtles with shells less than 4 inches long as pets in 1975 because they are often linked to Salmonella infections, especially in young children.
Clearly they are still being sold.
Indeed, some of the sick people in the latest outbreak said their turtles either came from a flea market or street vendor or were a gift from someone else.
So be careful if you have one — or are given a tiny turtle as a present.
“This outbreak is expected to continue since consumers might be unaware of the risk of Salmonella infection from small turtles,” the CDC says. “If properly cared for, turtles have a long life expectancy.”