Just one last comment on the recently passed FDA legislation. I know that Terra Sig readers must be tiring of this issue already, but this aspect was too good to pass up. I started writing this post on a lark but the topic actually has serious public health implications.
John Mack at his Pharma Marketing Blog made the clever observation that while DTC restrictions were not in the Senate bill, a provision “prohibiting the FDA from restricting the sale of turtles less than 10.2 centimeters in diameter as a pet DID make it into the bill (Title VII – Domestic Pet Turtle Market Access; Section 703)”
As John seriously points out, pet turtles can be a source of Salmonella poisoning. A strain of Salmonella that killed a 4 week old baby in July was identified as coming from the Florida family’s pet turtle. MMWR (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report) also documents several other cases of turtle-related salmonellosis in 2004.
The CDC reports that turtles smaller than 4 inches pose the greatest risk of salmonellosis. Interestingly, the link also points out that sales of these smaller turtles had been outlawed in the US since 1975, thereby preventing over 100,000 cases of Salmonella poisoning.
I had not known this at all and suspect that the new law now makes it legal to possess these smaller turtles without FDA oversight – not a good idea given what I’ve learned this afternoon.
The CDC recommends that pet turtles not be kept by households with children under the age of 5 because of the particular susceptibility of younger children to serious and potentially deadly effects of Salmonella poisoning.
Amazing what you learn when you actually read these tomes of legislative text…and then dig in a bit to learn the background on these seemingly esoteric issues.