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Ag. Dept warns of salmonella risk connected to red-eared slider turtle

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Red-eared slider turtles are being blamed for an outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium in seven states, including three bordering Delaware.

Delaware’s Department of Agriculture (DDA) warns First State residents about a potential salmonella risk.

The risk appears to come from red-eared slider turtles and state Ag officials are raising a red flag about any of them purchased between August 2020 and January 2021.

“There is a multistate outbreak of a type of salmonella called Salmonella Typhimurium," said the Ag Dept’s community relations chief Stacey Hofmann. "And it’s been reported in seven states. We do not have any confirmed cases here in Delaware.”

Hofmann points out there are cases in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland, including one death in Pensylvania. States with confirmed infections interviewed people affected and a majority of them report contact with the turtles in question.

 

Hofmann says although none of the 22 cases are in Delaware, they know these turtles are sold here.

 

Red-eared slider turtles are considered an invasive species in Delaware. They are treated as an exotic animal because they could pose a health or ecological threat and require a permit.  It is illegal to release them into the wild.

 

"It’s not illegal to have them as long as the shell length is over 4 inches," said Hofmann. "And that is federal law under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”

 

Hofman strongly suggests Delawareans do not purchase these turtles. If you have one and want to give it up, contact DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife for guidance.

 

For more information regarding the outbreak, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Kelli Steele has over 30 years of experience covering news in Delaware, Baltimore, Winchester, Virginia, Phoenix, Arizona and San Diego, California.