Your kids won’t stop asking for a pet. A dog sounds like way too much responsibility. Cats are an easier option, but all that kitty litter can really make a mess. And your brilliant fish idea didn’t go over too well.
A tiny pet turtle sounds like a harmless pet, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says otherwise. They pinned this very popular reptile as the carrier and cause of a recent salmonella outbreak. I guess they aren’t so cute after all.
On August 29, the CDC released an outbreak advisory that linked 37 salmonella infections in 13 states to turtles. Half of the 37 cases led to hospitalizations. 12 of those who were infected were five years old or younger.
And this is not a new problem. Since 2015, the CDC has warned people about adopting pet turtles. They may look small, but they carry a lot of bacteria. And when you are buying one for a little kid, you are looking for trouble.
Kids don’t understand that after you play with the turtle, you need to wash your hands. Their little fingers touch the turtles and then go right into their mouths. They suck their thumbs and frequently rub their eyes so kids and turtles are not a good combination.
When they put their hands in their mouths they are potentially carrying salmonellosis. Salmonellosis is a potentially dangerous infection caused by bacteria that goes from the reptile to the child. And because children have weaker immune systems than adults, this is a dangerous situation.
The CDC recommends that those who have weaker immune systems, children and older adults ages 65 and up, should avoid all reptile contact. The health protection agency warns that you should never purchase a turtle from a flea market, street vendor or souvenir shop. These vendors sometimes sell tiny turtles with shells smaller than four inches wide. This practice is banned by the CDC due to their especially high infection-causing rate.
So maybe it’s better to look but not touch. If you can’t stay away though, here are some safe handling tips for reptiles and amphibians. First, you should always wash your hands thoroughly after handling them.
You don’t have to touch the actual reptile to get sick from their germs. Any reptile food including frozen or live rodents and materials including tank water can be contaminated with Salmonella and other germs. It’s best to have them stay away.
I know it’s hard to not be able to snuggle such a cute little creature, but you simply cannot. There can be no snuggling, cuddling or kissing. These things may look cute, but they can kill you. Maybe you should go back to that whole dog idea and give it another go?