At least do not kiss them – and, wash your hands.

The CDC reports that a total of 72 persons infected with outbreak strains of Salmonella Sandiego, Salmonella Pomona, and Salmonella Poona have been reported from 17 states.

040512-map.jpgThe number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Arizona (2), California (12), Georgia (1), Indiana (1), Kentucky (1), Massachusetts (3), Maryland (6), Michigan (1), Minnesota (1), North Carolina (1), New Jersey (6), New Mexico (3), New York (21), Pennsylvania (7), Texas (4), Virginia (1), and Vermont (1)

12 ill persons have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.

59% of ill persons are children 10 years of age or younger.

Results of the epidemiologic and environmental investigations indicate exposure to turtles or their environments (e.g., water from a turtle habitat) is the cause of these outbreaks.

Small turtles (shell length less than 4 inches) were reported by 92% of cases. Forty-three percent of ill persons with small turtles reported purchasing the turtles from street vendors.

Turtles with a shell length of less than 4 inches in size should not be purchased or given as gifts.