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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Salmonella Death in Florida – Turtles to blame – Again

It what must rank up there with one of the more stupid moves by Congress (I know there are many), on May 2, 2007, according to Senator Mary Landrieu, “in A 93-1 vote, the United States Senate today passed S. 1082, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Revitalization Act, which includes a key amendment offered by Senator Landrieu, that would lift the current ban on the sale of baby turtles in the United States.”  She goes on to say:

“My amendment frees Louisiana’s turtle farmers from outdated FDA regulations that have crippled them for more than 30 years,” Senator Landrieu said. “This is a great success for our agriculture industry, and I am proud that I could work with the Senate leadership to get this key provision passed. I urge the House to follow the Senate and pass this legislation so that the President can sign it and our farmers can have the freedom they need to provide safe and healthy turtles to America’s children and families.”

Now here is the real issue:

“There are approximately 78 turtle farmers in Louisiana, comprising a $9.4 million industry.”

Check the campaign donations.

Yesterday the CDC published in MMWR reports of illness traced to turtles came from Texas, Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania and South Carolina, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. A strain of salmonella called S. Pomona was found in 19 patients in 11 states who had contact with the reptiles, the CDC said in a report released Thursday. The illnesses occurred from Sept. 30 through April 23.

Tragically, Emily Brown of Bloomberg News reported on the death of a 3 –week-old Florida girl linked to the turtles. The family of the 3-week-old girl was given a small turtle that a friend bought at a flea market in north central Florida, the CDC said. The baby developed poor appetite and lethargy and died March 1 after being admitted to a hospital. Tests showed that the turtle and the child had the same strain of salmonella. Quoting from the CDC report:

Six percent of salmonella infections can be attributed to reptiles, the CDC said, citing a study in 1996 and 1997. Symptoms in humans include stomach cramps, vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Children under 5 and people with weak immune systems are most at risk of serious effects.

Sale of turtles for educational purposes is allowed. The CDC estimated in 1980 that the ban had prevented 100,000 turtle-related salmonella infections and 40 deaths.

What is Congress thinking?  Might I suggest an email campaign to the good Senator?  Here is her press agents email:  scott_schneider@landrieu.senate.gov

See also what my friends at BARFBLOG have to say on the topic.