WITCHITA, Kan. — A nationwide salmonella outbreak is linked to the sale of small turtles online.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Kansas is one of the eleven states where the salmonella outbreak lived.

In Kansas, only one illness was recorded. Ten other states had 15 recorded illnesses and five hospitalizations. No deaths have been recorded relating to this outbreak.

Many of the people in this outbreak are children, according to the CDC. The CDC says the number is likely higher than reported because some people recover without medical care and therefore are not tested for salmonella.

Symptoms of salmonella:

  • Most people infected with Salmonella experience diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps.
    • Symptoms usually start 6 hours to 6 days after swallowing the bacteria.
    • Most people recover without treatment after 4 to 7 days.
  • Some people – especially children younger than 5 years, adults 65 years and older, and people with weakened immune systems – may experience more severe illnesses that require medical treatment or hospitalization.

For more information about salmonella, click here.

The CDC says, “Do not buy small turtles with shells less than four inches long. A federal law bans the sale of these small turtles as pets because they have caused many Salmonella outbreaks, but they are sometimes available for sale online and at stores, flea markets, and roadside stands.”

According to the CDC, many of the people in the outbreak reported purchasing turtles with shells less than four inches long from online stores before getting sick. Three of those people bought their turtles from myturtles.com. The CDC says the same strain of salmonella making people sick in this outbreak was also found on turtles purchased from myturtlestore.com.

“Pet turtles of any size can carry Salmonella germs in their droppings even if they look healthy and clean,” states the CDC. “These germs can easily spread to their bodies, tank water, and anything in the area where they live and roam.”

According to Title 6 – ANIMALS, turtles are illegal to own in Wichita. A turtle is included in the definition of “Dangerous wild animals.” (CHAPTER 6.08. – DANGEROUS AND EXOTIC ANIMALS, Sec. 6.08.010. – Definitions.) Exceptions can be found in CHAPTER 6.08. – DANGEROUS AND EXOTIC ANIMALS, Sec. 6.08.020. – Dangerous wild animal, wild animal and exotic animal—Presence in the city prohibited—Exceptions.

If you live in an area where turtles can legally be owned, visit the CDC’s website on what you should do if you are thinking of getting a pet turtle.

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