CDC and multiple states investigated a multistate outbreak of human Salmonella infections linked to contact with pet turtles.
A total of 76 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Agbeni were reported from 19 states.
Illnesses started on dates ranging from March 1, 2017 to December 1, 2017.
Of 63 people with available information, 30 were hospitalized. No deaths were reported.
24 (32%) ill people were children younger than 5.
Epidemiologic and laboratory findings linked this outbreak of human Salmonella Agbeni infections to contact with turtles or their environments, such as water from a turtle habitat.
In interviews, ill people answered questions about contact with animals during the week before becoming ill. Twenty-three (38%) of the 60 people interviewed reported contact with turtles or their environments, such as water from a turtle habitat, before getting sick.
Of the 23 ill people who had contact with turtles, 14 (61%) reported contact with small turtles that had a shell length of less than four inches. They reported purchasing the turtle from a street vendor or receiving the turtle as a gift.
In 2015, state and local health officials collected samples from turtles at a street vendor. Whole genome sequencing(https://www.cdc.gov/pulsenet/pathogens/wgs.html) showed that the Salmonella Agbeni isolated from ill people in this outbreak was closely related genetically to the Salmonella Agbeni isolates from the turtles at the street vendor. This close genetic relationship means that illnesses in this outbreak were likely linked to turtles.