Children tend to handle these turtles a great deal, Imperato said. "Their fingers come into contact with all the material on the turtle and in the water. Then. there is finger-to-mouth contact, and they acquire the infection," he said.
Imperato said that to protect themselves, people who handle these turtles should wash their hands after touching the animals. But Salmonella-contaminated water can be splashed onto surfaces and cause the germ to spread.
Also, most people aren't likely to wash their hands thoroughly after they have handled a turtle or come into contact with contaminated objects or water, he said.
"The best strategy is not to purchase these turtles," Imperato said.
For more on the Salmonella-turtle connection, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: Julie Harris, Ph.D., Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta; Pascal James Imperato, M.D., distinguished service professor, and chair, department of preventive medicine and community health and director, master of public health program, State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, New York City; Jan. 25, 2008, CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
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