A new study says that 107 people became ill in the largest turtle-caused salmonella outbreak in the United States. The outbreak occurred in 2007-08. Of those patients, one-third had to be hospitalized.
The outbreak involved mostly children in 34 states, said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, which noted that many parents didn't know that pet turtles can carry salmonella, the Associated Press reported.
The sale of small turtles as pets was banned in the United States in 1975, but millions continue to be sold illegally. The number of pet turtles nationwide increased from 950,000 in 1996 to almost two million in 2006, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
"It's very easy to think of turtles as being a very gentle and nice pet," but many are salmonella carriers and don't show any signs, said study lead author Julie Harris, the AP reported. Salmonella on turtles' shells and body can spread to people who handle them.