Saturday, 9 February 2013

Health risk from handling captive sea turtles identified

Potential exposure to septicaemia, pneumonia, meningitis and acute renal failure

February 2013. Tourists coming into contact with sea turtles at holiday attractions face a risk of health problems, according to research published by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine (JRSM) Short Reports. Encountering free-living sea turtles in nature is quite safe, but contact with wild-caught and captive-housed sea turtles, typically through handling turtles in confined pools or through consuming turtle products, carries the risk of exposure to toxic contaminants and to zoonotic (animal to human) pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. Symptoms, which may take some time to emerge, can resemble gastrointestinal disorders or flu but people more severely affected can suffer septicaemia, pneumonia, meningitis and acute renal failure.

The biggest bacterial culprits are E.Coli and Salmonella, although there are some lower infection threats from viruses such as Vibrio. Fungi and parasites represent the area of least concern. 

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