Salmonella outbreaks are being caused by turtles

Story highlights

Four separate outbreaks of salmonella have been linked to turtles this year

41% of those infected are under age 5

More cases are expected as people remain unaware of the risk

CNN  — 

Small turtles may be cute but they are making people sick. That was the warning from U.S. federal health officials on Wednesday.

Between January 2015 and April of this year there have been four separate multi-state outbreaks of salmonella associated with touching turtles smaller than four inches long.

In all, 133 individuals in 26 states have become sick. Thirty-eight of those individuals were so ill they were hospitalized, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Numbers are expected to rise.

“The outbreak is expected to continue at a low level for the next several months since people might be unaware of the risk of Salmonella infection from small turtles,” the CDC said in an investigation update detailing each of the four outbreaks.