According to the AP, 107 people in 34 states were part of an outbreak of Salmonella linked to pet turtles. The outbreak occurred in 2007-2008. Most of those sickened were children, and roughly one-third of those involved required hospitalization.
Few parents recognize the risks posed by pet turtles:
Despite a 1975 ban on selling small turtles as pets, they continue to be sold illegally. The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that the number of pet turtles nationwide doubled from 950,000 in 1996 to almost 2 million in 2006.
Investigation into the outbreak was keyed by examination of the illnesses of two North Carolina girls who swam in a pool with a pet turtle:
Authorities began investigating in September 2007 after a Union County, N.C., teen swam in her backyard pool with two pet turtles and a friend from South Carolina. Both girls developed bloody diarrhea, vomiting, fever and stomach cramps; one developed kidney failure and spent eight days in the hospital.
Salmonella bacteria traced to those turtles matched salmonella later found in three other North Carolina children. Other cases turned up elsewhere, many involving direct contact with turtles, including children kissing turtles or putting them in their mouths.