Pet Turtles Can Make People Sick: Guidance for Clinicians

Janell Routh, MD


June 25, 2012

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In This Article

Preventing the Spread of Zoonotic Salmonellosis

As a healthcare provider, you can help prevent the spread of zoonotic Salmonella infections by doing the following:

  • Ask patients and parents about contact with animals, both in the home and away from home, in places such as daycares, schools, and animal exhibits such as petting zoos or stores.

  • Educate your patients and their families about the risks for Salmonella and other zoonotic infections from small turtles and other reptiles.

  • Share prevention recommendations, and advise patients that some pets are not appropriate for children younger than 5 years or other high-risk people. Small turtles are never appropriate pets.

  • Remind all patients that simple precautions, such as good handwashing practices following the handling of animals or anything in the animal's environment, can reduce the risk for zoonotic infections.

  • Remind patients to clean the reptile's habitat outside the home -- not in the kitchen sink or bathtub.

Educational materials are available here and can be distributed in waiting rooms and exam rooms.


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