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Salmonella Outbreak In Maryland Spread By Turtles

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(Credit: LAURENT FIEVET/AFP/Getty Images)

(Credit: LAURENT FIEVET/AFP/Getty Images)

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BALTIMORE (AP) — Maryland health officials are warning people to take care when handling baby animals after six people fell ill after being exposed to baby turtles.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating three salmonella outbreaks associated with red-eared slider turtles that affected 63 people in 16 states since the fall.

Officials say five of the six Marylanders were hospitalized, but all have recovered. All six were exposed to turtles smaller than four inches wide and three reported buying the turtle from a neighborhood vendor. The sale of such small turtles is prohibited.

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene warns that baby animals such as turtles, chicks, ducklings, and rabbits — some of which are commonly associated with Easter — can pass salmonella and other harmful bacteria to people.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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