Turtle Kissing Leads to Sickness, CDC Warns


For those who don’t want to get salmonella, the CDC offers some advice: Do not kiss small turtles.

“Turtles with shells less than 4 inches long are a known source of illness,” the CDC’s website warned late last week. So I guess if you’ve got a turtle much larger than four inches, go on and knock yourself out — but first, make sure the turtle consents.

Please note that this is not a joke about the potentially deadly bacterial infection. Salmonella can cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms, including headaches, nausea, and chills. In severe cases, dehydration may be so bad that hospitalization is required. Thank goodness that, despite all the strange things we’ve seen become mainstream in recent years, there is no movement to normalize salmonella fetish.

The CDC has warned of a “multistate epidemic” involving 26 people who ingested bacteria after becoming too friendly with their turtles. Don’t kiss, cuddle, or eat around your turtle. Infected turtle droppings can easily spread to the turtle’s body, tank water, and other things in their area.

I have created a Venn Diagram* that explains the salmonella risk to ordinary Americans, like me, you, and Uncle Ted who kisses turtles.

Nine people were hospitalized. No one has died. These figures are encouraging but make my Venn Diagram look even more ridiculous.

Due to the limitations of laptop and desktop monitors, which are rarely more than a few hundred feet wide, I was not able to create the chart at the correct scale. In reality, the Venn circle that says “People Who Kiss Turtles” would need to be hundreds and thousands of times smaller to appear next to the larger Venn circles. The tiny overlap area was still too small to capture. The text should read “People who actually got sick” and should also appear smaller than it is.

The Hill reports that salmonella is responsible for more than 1.3 million infections, 26500 hospitalizations, and 420 deaths annually in the U.S. But don’t get too excited about your local Testudines.

As a child, I caught baby red-ear slider turtles in the Gasconade River. They were usually only an inch wide. These little turtles are fast and sneaky. They’re also hard to catch. I’ve caught them dozens of times over the years, and have never gotten sick. I never even thought about getting fresh with them.

It’s hard not to feel sorry for those responsible for releasing an “Investigation Notice”, such as this one. The people who signed up to work for the premier federal health agency probably thought they would be saving the planet like Dustin Hoffman did in “Outbreak.” Instead, they are stuck writing Very Serious Reports telling people not to kiss turtles after two dozen people experienced some foul gastric discomfort.