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06/14/2012 at 12:00 PM ET

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Paradise And Other Urban Legends on

The article, “Best Pets For Families With Infants and Toddlers” disturbed me….it recommends turtles for “Toddlers old enough to handle a pet gently”….it neglects to mention the warning that turtles (as well as other reptiles and amphibians) carry Salmonella and handling the turtle as well as touching the water it lives/swims in or the aquarium glass that has had exposure to the dirty water can infect anyone with the disease. Small children are at higher risk due ti immature immune systems. The CDC advises that families with children under the age of 5 yrs (also pregnant women and people with weakened or compromised immune systems) should avoid turtles. So, the advice that this is a good pet for infants and toddlers is incorrect. The Salmonella risk should have been mentioned in the article for people that do not know…but in actuality turtles should not be on the list.

Here is the CDC’s recommendation for precautions handling these pets:

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water immediately after touching a reptile or amphibian, or anything in the area where they live and roam. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available.

Adults should always supervise hand washing for young children.

Do not let children younger than 5 years of age handle or touch reptiles or amphibians, or anything in the area where they live and roam, including water from containers or aquariums.

Keep reptiles and amphibians out of homes with children younger than 5 years old or people with weakened immune systems.

Reptiles and amphibians should not be kept in child care centers, nursery schools, or other facilities with children younger than 5 years old.

Do not touch your mouth after handling reptiles or amphibians and do not eat or drink around these animals.

Do not let reptiles or amphibians roam freely throughout the house or in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens, pantries, or outdoor patios.

Habitats and their contents should be carefully cleaned outside of the home. Use disposable gloves when cleaning and do not dispose of water in sinks used for food preparation or for obtaining drinking water.

Do not bathe animals or their habitats in your kitchen sink. If bathtubs are used for these purposes, they should be thoroughly cleaned afterward. Use bleach to disinfect a tub or other place where reptile or amphibian habitats are cleaned.

Wash any clothing the reptile or amphibian might have touched.

Use soap or a disinfectant to thoroughly clean any surfaces that have been in contact with reptiles or amphibians.

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