Turtles often transmit salmonella

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Turtles and other reptiles can transmit salmonella

At Christmas, pets will be given away again in many households this year. According to the Central Association of Zoological Specialists in Germany (ZFF), this should be considered carefully so that neither animals nor humans suffer afterwards. The Osnabrück journalist and film author Winfried Brüssing explicitly warned against the purchase of turtles. These are not cuddly toys for children, as they are "like all reptiles large carriers of salmonella", explained Brüssing, who is supported by the pediatrician Prof. Karl Ernst von Mühlendahl, in a press release from the news agency "dpa".

"You have to explain that turtles are often carriers of salmonella," emphasized Prof. von Mühlendahl and pointed out that according to a study by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in 2008, there was a nationwide increase in salmonella infections in children . In the United States, Great Britain and Austria there have been deaths from Salmonella infections due to contact with turtles, said Brüssing. Under the motto "Danger can be so cute", an information campaign should therefore warn doctors, pet stores and consumers of the risk. Even among the doctors, many would not associate the occurrence of a Salmonella infection with the keeping of reptiles, added Prof. Karl Ernst von Mühlendahl.

Turtles and reptiles as disease carriers
According to the experts, the salmonella can spread when the animals are touched, which is why hand washing is mandatory after contact. It is also "generally important, not only for reptiles, that parents supervise the handling of animals", added Antje Schreiber, spokeswoman for the Central Association of German Zoological Specialists (ZFF), to the news agency "dpa". The ZZF recommends that pet retailers advise customers of the risk of salmonella transmission, continues Schreiber. How many turtles are actually sold per year, however, is not known. For children, however, “land turtles that live in their own garden would rather be purchased” and therefore have less close contact with people. In addition, "prices have risen enormously," which is why spontaneous purchases are the exception here today, the ZZF press spokeswoman said.

Salmonella infections as a health risk in reptile farming?
Turtle keepers - like all reptile keepers - should also think of an animal-borne salmonella infection (salmonellosis) for symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. If in doubt, an appropriate veterinary examination can provide information. Since in patients with a weakened immune system, the elderly and infants, salmonellosis can turn into a serious general infection, which in the worst case can have life-threatening consequences, the risk of infection by the animals should be ruled out here. In otherwise healthy people, Salmonella diseases often go away on their own after a short time, which is why those affected often do not even see a doctor. Brüssing and Prof. von Mühlendahl report that the more stubborn medical conditions are often only examined in more detail. (fp)

Image: Gila Hanssen / pixelio.de

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