Berkshire Pet Turtle Owners: Be Aware Of Some Serious Health Issues
Let's face it. Some people here in the Berkshires and our tri-state region own pets that are out of the ordinary. However, turtles seem to be a popular choice for many being they live in water and are low maintenance in nature but there are some setbacks. Those with shells exceeding four inches in length can lead to a multitude of salmonella outbreaks which can be dangerous to those under five years of age and to senior citizens, 65 and older..
In the United States, it is illegal to buy or sell turtles with shells smaller than four inches long as they can carry salmonella in their droppings. These germs can then spread to their bodies, tank water and anything else they touch. This outbreak has impacted 14 states in total including Massachusetts and neighboring New York.
Some of the symptoms include a fever exceeding 102 degrees, nausea, dehydration and irregular bowel movements which I will not describe any further. Call your primary care physician immediately for a thorough examination to rectify these health-related problems. Recovery takes anywhere between four and seven days after exposure. However, those with weaker immune systems could be hospitalized due to these setbacks.
Turtle owners need to take necessary steps to prevent any further negative reaction:
ALWAYS wash your hands with soap and water after touching or feeding a turtle and especially cleaning or touching the areas where it lives and roams freely.
NEVER kiss or snuggle the turtle and don't eat or drink in it's presence. It is not advisable to keep them around the kitchen or dining areas of your residence as the vicinity is prone to pick up germs.
Clean your turtle's dwelling outside of your home including its tank, toys, and feeders. Plus, it is advisable to wear rubber gloves as an added precaution. If you perform these tasks indoors, make sure you utilize a laundry sink or bath tub and disinfect the area thoroughly afterwards.
Pet stores in particular should pay heed to these basic steps by emphasizing they cannot sell a turtle with a shell less than four inches long. In addition, they should display warning posters on how consumers can stay healthy. The stores can also provide literature on the basic protection to prevent salmonella and other health-related illnesses.
If you can't properly maintain a turtle as a member of the family, call your local reptile rescue, animal shelter, or pet shop to assist in this matter. Do not release any pets into the wilderness as this action is prohibited in certain states and you could be subject to a massive fine in the long run.
For more information on keeping yourself safe, log on to the CDC web site by going here.
(Some information obtained in this article courtesy of The Center For Diseases & Prevention Control)