Las Vegas salmonellosis outbreak blamed on pet turtles

Six Clark County residents have been tied to a multistate outbreak of salmonellosis caused by exposure to small turtles, Southern Nevada Health District officials said.

The six join 149 other people since June 2011 in 28 other states who have experienced similar infections from interactions with the animals.

The infection, caused by the ingestion of salmonella bacteria, usually lasts four to seven days. Owners of turtles, iguanas, snakes and lizards are at a high risk because the animals often carry the bacteria on their bodies.

Most people recover without treatment, but severe infections can occur. Clark County’s six cases include five children under age 5 and one adult. One patient was hospitalized before recovering. All had contact with pet aquatic turtles .

Symptoms include fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramping.

The health district advises avoiding contact with turtles as the best way to avoid contracting salmonellosis.

For those who keep turtles as pets, it recommends practices that can reduce the chance of infection. They include: washing hands with soap and water after touching or feeding turtles, keeping turtles out of kitchens and dining rooms, cleaning turtle containers outside of the house, keeping turtle habitats out of kids’ rooms and stopping children younger than 5 years old from handling the pets.

Contact reporter Ben Frederickson at or 702-224-5512.

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