The CDC is warning pet owners to be on the lookout after at least 13 states, including Illinois, have reported cases of Salmonella caused by pet turtles.
In Illinois, four people have been diagnosed with the disease after either handling pet turtles or after coming into contact with the turtles’ habitat, the CDC says.
37 total cases have been reported throughout the United States, with states from California to New Jersey all reporting cases.
No deaths have been reported from the outbreak, but 16 people have been hospitalized, according to the agency. 12 of the victims were children under the age of five years old.
The CDC recommends that people avoid purchasing a turtle with a shell length of less than four inches, as smaller turtles have been known to carry the disease. The agency also recommends that people with children five years of age or younger avoid keeping turtles in their homes.
Teachers and day care operators are also being encouraged not to keep turtles within proximity of young children as a result of the outbreak.
Turtle owners are also advised to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water every time they come into contact with their pet or any part of their habitat.
New York has the highest number of confirmed Salmonella cases in the country, with 11 of them having been reported since March. Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Ohio are among the states with multiple confirmed cases.