Posted By Elizabeth Watts, Anchor/Reporter - email
A salmonella outbreak has been linked to baby turtles. (Elizabeth Watts/FOX5)
Five people in Clark County were poisoned. (Elizabeth Watts/FOX5)
Exotic Pets on Decatur and Smoke Ranch doesn't sell baby turtles, which is illegal. (Elizabeth Watts/FOX5)
Owner Ken Foose said the biggest issue is many sellers are not teaching proper care. (Elizabeth Watts/FOX5)
Elizabeth Watts with a kinkajou. (Elizabeth Watts/FOX5)
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -
A nationwide outbreak of salmonella poisoning has been reported, with at least six cases in Clark County. The Southern Nevada Health District said its from pet turtles, less than 4 inches in diameter, also known as baby turtles.
The health district said six people in Clark County, including five children, contracted salmonellosis from handling small turtles. One person was hospitalized. Everyone recovered.
Ken Foose owns Exotic Pets on Decatur and Smoke Ranch. He has all kinds of animals for sale, but said turtles are the most popular reptile. He sells between 100 and 150 a week to locals.
Foose doesn't sell baby turtles. He said that's against federal law unless it's for educational purposes. But you can still find them in other pet shops and swap meets. Foose said the biggest issue is many of those sellers are not teaching proper care.
"Unfortunately it's that mentality of it's the fast buck. They sell the turtle and plastic box for $10. People go 'oh, how cute.' But they're uninformed, they're uneducated about what they're buying," Foose said.
Salmonella can lurk on reptiles and in their homes. Foose said it doesn't matter what size the animal is or what kind.
The health district and Foose told every reptile or amphibian owner to thoroughly wash their hands after playing with them. We spoke with one turtle owner who agreed it's all about common sense.
"You need to wash your hands after touching a door knob, so it's not just the animals, its everything," Bret Robello said.
The health district urges reptile and amphibian owners to keep the pets out of food areas including kitchens and off tables. Do not clean their homes in kitchen sinks or bathtubs, and always wash your hands after touching the animal or their home.
They also advise families with kids under 5 to not have those type of animals.
The symptoms for salmonella poisoning include diarrhea, fever, sometimes vomiting and headaches. It can last four to seven days. Folks who think they have it are urged to call their doctor and report it to the health district.
Nationwide nearly 150 people have been infected with salmonella strains from turtles in 28 states, and 28 people were hospitalized but everyone recovered. Of those, 64 percent were kids under 10 years old.
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