Can my turtle give me Salmonella?

What is salmonella and how do I get it?

Salmonella is a common bacterial disease that can be found in the intestinal tract and is shed through feces. Most often, humans can become infected through contaminated food or water.

In recent years, we’ve experienced plenty of lettuce recalls for salmonella exposure. Other ways you may come in to contact with this bacteria are through raw eggs (cookie dough is a big one), raw chicken, and animals who are infected or are carriers of the disease.

Once exposed, it can take two hours to two days for symptoms to show up. Some people with a salmonella infection show no symptoms, but others develop fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. Healthy people recover within a few days without specific treatment but if the infection spreads beyond your intestines, there is greater risk to your overall health. (Mayoclinic)

Animals are carriers of salmonella

Most animals including house-pets carry salmonella in their intestines. This can include: dogs, cats, reptiles, birds, rodents, horses, and amphibians.

Unfortunately, turtles have become the poster-child for pet-related salmonella infections. This is due to the fact that they live in a tank where they eat and do their business. So if the turtle is carrying salmonella, their entire tank is contaminated.

The risk of contracting salmonella is higher than with other pets, so there is a greater chance of contracting salmonella.

How do I know if my turtle has salmonella?

There is only one definitive way to know if your turtle is carrying salmonella and that is a test performed by your local veterinarian. If you’re not willing to pay hundreds of dollars for the test, the safest way to interact with your turtle is to assume that they carry salmonella.

This means that all tools, containers, and items that come into contact with your turtle’s enclosure are to be decontaminated regularly. Wash your hands after every interaction to prevent the spread of any disease your pet may be carrying.

If your turtle has been tested and does not carry Salmonella, that doesn’t mean that they can’t contract it at a later date.

In conclusion, your turtle can certainly give you salmonella if your turtle is carrying the disease. Dogs, cats, birds, and other house-pets may also give you salmonella under the right circumstances. Be safe, wash your hands, and you shouldn’t have an issue.

Credit: CDC

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