USA – Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Agbeni Infections Linked to Pet Turtles, 2017 (Final Update)

CDC Salm2

Outbreak Advisory





  • 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( 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.
  • Whole genome sequencing( did not identify predicted antibiotic resistance in 43 of 44 isolates from ill people
    • One isolate from an ill person had predicted resistance to nalidixic acid and ciprofloxacin. The resistance in this isolate is unlikely to affect treatment for most outbreak-associated cases.
  • Testing of four outbreak isolates using standard antibiotic susceptibility testing( methods by CDC’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS)( laboratory did not show any resistance.
  • Do not buy small turtles as pets or give them as gifts.
  • All turtles, regardless of size, can carry Salmonella bacteria even if they look healthy and clean. These outbreaks are a reminder to follow simple steps( to enjoy pet reptiles and keep your family healthy.
  • This outbreak investigation is over. Illnesses could continue because people may not know they could get a Salmonella infection from contact with pet turtles.

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