Chicago: Two girls who swam with pet turtles in a backyard pool were among 107 people sickened in the largest salmonella outbreak blamed on turtles nationwide, researchers report.
David Bergmire-Sweat, a North Carolina epidemiologist who investigated the Union County case, said he`s heard of families letting turtles walk on kitchen surfaces where food is prepared, and babies being bathed in sinks where turtle cages are washed.Because the federal ban was enacted more than 30 years ago, "many people just don`t remember," he said.Recent efforts to overturn the ban, backed by turtle farmers, have failed. Veterinarian Mark Mitchell, a University of Illinois zoological medicine professor, has been working with Louisiana turtle farmers in research aimed at raising salmonella-free turtles. Initial efforts involved cleansing turtle eggs with antibiotics, but that led to strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Mitchell said now he`s focusing on washing eggs in disinfectants similar to chlorine. He says the industry has been unfairly saddled with harsher restrictions than producers of human foods also blamed for recent salmonella outbreaks. Bureau Report