LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Turtles may be a popular household pet but they are being blamed for a multistate Salmonella outbreak, mostly in young children.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that the majority of those who have gotten sick have handled small turtles that fit in the palm of your hand.

So far, 149 people have been infected in 28 states, including 26 people in California. Of those infected, 64 percent are under 10 years old. Some have been hospitalized but no deaths have been reported thus far.

Other than for educational use, it is illegal to buy and sell turtles under four inches because they have a high risk of Salmonella infection. But that hasn’t stopped black market vendors.

Malibu-based American Tortoise Rescue shot undercover video of small turtles being sold on Santee Street in downtown Los Angeles.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lists the symptoms of Salmonella as diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, fever and headache. If these symptoms persist, you’re urged to call your doctor.

Those who handle turtles are urged to wash your hands thoroughly. Health officials recommend that no child under five handle a turtle.


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