Investigation Details

Updated August 31, 2022

August 31, 2022

CDC and public health officials in several states are collecting different types of data to investigate a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Stanley infections.

Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback data show that contact with small turtles purchased from a website called myturtlestore.com is a source of illnesses in this multistate outbreak.

Epidemiologic Data

Six more illnesses have been reported since the last update on July 21, 2022. As of August 29, 2022, a total of 21 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Stanley have been reported from 14 states (see map). Illnesses started on dates ranging from January 3, 2022, to July 15, 2022 (see timeline).

Sick people range in age from less than one year to 75 years, with a median of 14 years, and 60% of people are female. Of 18 people with information available, 8 (44%) have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

The true number of sick people in an outbreak is likely much higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses. This is because many people recover without medical care and are not tested for Salmonella. In addition, recent illnesses may not yet be reported as it usually takes 2 to 4 weeks to determine if a sick person is part of an outbreak.

State and local public health officials are interviewing people about the animals they came into contact with in the week before they got sick. Of 14 people interviewed, 10 (71%) reported touching turtles. Of the 9 people interviewed about the size of their turtle, all 9 (100%) reported contact with a pet turtle with a shell less than 4 inches long.

Laboratory and Traceback Data

Eight people were interviewed about where they purchased their small pet turtles, and all 8 (100%) reported purchasing their small pet turtles from online retailers. Five (63%) of these 8 people purchased their small pet turtles from a website called myturtlestore.com.

On July 20, 2022 the Florida Department of Health collected samples from turtles and their environments from the myturtlestore.com facility. WGS shows that Salmonella found on the turtles are closely related to bacteria from sick people.

WGS analysis of bacteria from 20 people’s samples, 4 turtle samples, and 3 environmental samples did not predict resistance to any antibiotics. Standard antibiotic susceptibility testing by CDC’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) laboratory of bacteria from one person’s sample and one environmental sample also found no resistance.

Public Health Actions

CDC advises that you always take steps to stay healthy around your pet turtle: wash your hands, play safely, and keep supplies and the pet area clean. Do not buy small turtles with shells less than 4 inches long, including from online retailers such as myturtlestore.com.

Previous Updates

CDC and public health officials in several states are collecting different types of data to investigate a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Stanley infections.

Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback data show that contact with small turtles is making people sick.

Epidemiologic Data

As of July 19, 2022, a total of 15 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Stanley have been reported from 11 states (see map). Illnesses started on dates ranging from January 3, 2022, to June 24, 2022 (see timeline).

Sick people range in age from less than one year to 59 years, with a median of 7 years, and 71% of ill people are female. Of the 12 people with information available, 5 (42%) have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

The true number of sick people in an outbreak is likely much higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses. This is because many people recover without medical care and are not tested for Salmonella. In addition, recent illnesses may not yet be reported as it usually takes 2 to 4 weeks to determine if a sick person is part of an outbreak.

State and local public health officials are interviewing people about the animals they came into contact with in the week before they got sick. Of the 9 people interviewed, 8 (88%) reported touching turtles. Of the 7 people interviewed about the size of their turtle, 6 (86%) reported contact with a pet turtle with a shell less than 4 inches long. Of the 7 people interviewed about where they purchased their turtles, 6 (86%) reported purchasing their small turtles from online retailers. Of the 6 people who purchased their turtles online, 3 (50%) purchased from a website called myturtlestore.com.

Laboratory and Traceback Data

Public health investigators are using the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that may be part of this outbreak. CDC PulseNet manages a national database of DNA fingerprints of bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses. DNA fingerprinting is performed on bacteria using a method called whole genome sequencing (WGS). WGS showed that bacteria from sick people’s samples are closely related genetically. This means that people in this outbreak likely got sick from the same type of animal.

On May 9, 2022, the Tennessee Department of Health collected samples from two small turtles in a sick person’s home for testing. These turtles were purchased from myturtlestore.com. WGS showed that the Salmonella on the turtles and their environment are closely related to bacteria from sick people.

WGS analysis of bacteria from 14 people’s samples, 3 turtle samples, and 3 environmental samples did not predict resistance to any antibiotics. One person’s sample showed resistance to tetracycline. Most people with Salmonella illness recover without antibiotics. However, if antibiotics are needed, this resistance is unlikely to affect the choice of antibiotic used to treat most people. Standard antibiotic susceptibility testing by CDC’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) laboratory is currently underway.

Public Health Actions

CDC advises that you always take steps to stay healthy around your pet turtle: wash your hands, play safely, and keep supplies and the pet area clean. Do not buy small turtles with shells less than 4 inches long, including online from myturtlestore.com.