The Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers about the risk of Salmonella infection associated with pet turtles through a brochure available online and by mail.
The document, "Pet Turtles: A Common Source of Salmonella," warns consumers not to buy small turtles as gifts and to remove existing pet reptiles from homes if the occupants are expecting children. It also warns that the young, elderly, and immunosuppressed are at increased risk from Salmonella.
Dr. Joseph C. Paige, a consumer safety officer in the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine, states in the publication that reptiles and amphibians are commonly contaminated with Salmonella.
"But it is the small turtles that most often are put in contact with young children, where consequences of infection are likely to be severe," Dr. Paige states.
It has been illegal since 1975 to sell turtles with shells less than four inches long. Turtle farmers—particularly in Louisiana—and their supporters in Congress have argued that turtles raised today are safer, and people should be allowed to knowingly accept the responsibilities and risks involved with owning them.
The FDA publication and order forms for print copies are available through the Federal Citizen Information Center at www.pueblo.gsa.gov/rc/turtles.html.