State health investigators said two cases of salmonella illness are linked to pet turtles, one in Kitsap County and the other in Whatcom County.
One person was hospitalized.
Doctors warn people, especially children, to wash their hands after handling turtles and to avoid touching their faces. Children under 5 and people with weakened immune systems could become severely ill.
“Salmonella can cause a serious or even life-threatening illness,” said Hanna Oltean, epidemiologist with the Department of Health. “People should know that reptiles and amphibians carry salmonella, and they can best prevent getting and spreading the illness by learning safe pet handling techniques.”
The Washington Health Department said this is not the first time salmonella cases were linked to pet turtles. Many reptiles such as turtles, snakes and lizards can carry the bacteria on their bodies without showing any symptoms or health issues.
The symptoms of salmonella include high fever, stomach cramps and severe diarrhea.
Twenty-one people in 13 states contracted salmonella in this latest outbreak. Seven had to be hospitalized.