December 22, 2014

Update on Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Linked to Small Turtles

The CDC has released updated information about multistate outbreaks of Salmonella linked to small turtles. So far, 149 people in 28 states are infected with outbreak strains of four types of bacteria: Salmonella Sandiego, Salmonella Pomona, Salmonella Newport, and Salmonella Poona. We’ve told you about this outbreak in March 2012 and again in May 2012. In the last update, there were five outbreaks; now there are six.

The case count is as follows:

  • Alabama (2)
  • Alaska (2)
  • Arizona (5)
  • California (26)
  • Colorado (5)
  • Delaware (3)
  • Georgia (3)
  • Illinois (1)
  • Indiana (1)
  • Kentucky (1)
  • Massachusetts (3)
  • Maryland (6)
  • Michigan (2)
  • Minnesota (1)
  • New Jersey (7)
  • New Mexico (4)
  • New York (25)
  • Nevada (6)
  • North Carolina (1)
  • Ohio (2)
  • Oregon (1)
  • Pennsylvania (14)
  • South Carolina (4)
  • Tennessee (2)
  • Texas (17)
  • Vermont (1)
  • Virginia (3)
  • West Virginia (1)

These are the outbreaks the CDC is following:

Outbreak 1: Salmonella Sandiego, Strain A, and Salmonella Newport, Strain A

A total of 62 people are infected with these bacterial strains. Seven new cases are reported in this outbreak, from California (3), New Mexico (1), Nevada (1) and Texas (2). Illness onset dates range from August 3, 2011 to May 24, 2012. Age range is 1 to 86 years; median age is 8 years. Ten people have been hospitalized.

Outbreak 2: Salmonella Pomona, Strain A

A total of 11 people in 8 states are infected with this bacteria. There are two new cases, from New York and Pennsylvania. Illness onset dates range from December 9, 2011 to May 29, 2012. Age range is less than 1 year to 90 years; median age is 16 years. Three people have been hospitalized.

Outbreak 3: Salmonella Poona, Strain A

A total of 17 people have been reported from 9 states in this outbreak. Two new cases are from Tennessee and Texas. Illness onset dates range from October 20, 2011 to April 6, 2012. Age range is less than 1 year to 70 years; the median age is 3 years. Sixty-nine percent of patients are female. Four are hospitalized.

Outbreak 4: Salmonella Sandiego, Strain B

No new cases are reported since the update on May 10, 2012.  At that time, six people were ill with this outbreak strain in 3 states. Age range is less than 1 year to 65 years old; the median age is 17 years. One person was hospitalized.

Outbreak 5: A total of 47 people have been reported from 18 states. the 8 new cases are from Alabama (1), Arizona (1), California (2), Nevada (1), South Carolina (1), Tennessee (1), and Texas (1). Illness onset dates range from June 21, 2011 to June 16, 2012. The patient age range is from less than 1 year to 86 years; median age is 2. Forty-nine percent of the patients are female. Nine people have been hospitalized.

Outbreak 6: Salmonella Poona, Strain B

A total of six people infected with this outbreak strain have been reported from 3 states: Arizona (1), Pennsylvania (4), and Texas (1). Illness onset dates are from April 1, 2012 to May 26, 2012. The patient age range is from less than 1 year to 74 years; median age is 8 years. One person has been hospitalized.

According to the CDC, 64% of the patients are 10 years of age or younger, and 28% are 1 year of age or younger. Exposure to small turtles or their environments, such as water from a turtle habitat, is the cause of these outbreaks.

Ninety-four percent of ill persons with turtle exposure specifically reported exposure to small turtles less than 4 inches in length. Thirty-three percent of the patients purchased turtles from street vendors, which makes it very difficult to determine the source of the turtles. Small turtles are a well-known source of human Salmonella infections, especially among young children. The FDA has banned the sale and distribution of these animals as pets since 1975.

Amphibians and reptiles can carry Salmonella and still appear healthy. The bacteria are shed in the animal’s droppings and contaminate their bodies and everything in their habitats.

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