WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA9) -- Next time your five year old brings home their creepy, crawly playground friends, use caution. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention finds that over 345 people, mostly children under five, have become ill in several nationwide Salmonella outbreaks.
The culprits? Mostly turtles and frogs; although the CDC says that all small reptiles and amphibians are breeders of Salmonella.
These animals may look clean but the germs on their bodies are highly contagious by touch. The CDC recommends washing your hands immediately after touching these animals or the water in the aquariums they are housed in.
Any individuals who have weakened immune systems are extremely susceptible to Salmonella outbreaks. Symptoms include diarrhea, stomach cramping, vomiting and fever.
Other tips from the CDC:
Do not let reptiles or amphibians roam freely throughout the house or in areas where food or drink is prepared, served or stored.
Bathe these pets in a designated place for them only.
Adults should supervise their children when washing hands.
Never buy small turtles from street vendors, websites, or pet stores.
The US Food and Drug Administration enforced a ban in 1975 on selling or distributing turtles with shells that measure less than four inches in length. Since young children were more likely to consume tiny turtles, this ban has helped prevent Salmonella infections.