Tags: Sea Turtles sicken Tourists

Travel Advisory: Sea Turtles Can Sicken Tourists

By    |   Wednesday, 06 February 2013 04:57 PM

Health experts are issuing a new warning to travelers planning a visit to a tourist attraction that features up-close-and-personal interactions with sea turtles: The animals can easily pass infections to humans.

The advisory, published in Royal Society of Medicine journal JRSM Short Reports, is based on a case study of the Cayman Turtle Farm in Grand Cayman, which drew 1.2 million visitors between 2007 and 2011, and sells turtle meat to local restaurants.

The researchers found that handling sea turtles in confined pools that can spread germs put tourists at risk of a wide variety of bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic diseases that can be passed from animals to humans. Among them: pneumonia, meningitis, blood poisoning, and acute renal failure. Consuming turtle products can also carry health risks.

Researcher Clifford Warwick, of the Emergent Disease Foundation, noted some tourists who visit such attractions may also spread germs to other travelers.

"The subsequent distribution of visitors exposed to turtle farm conditions may also involve opportunities for further dissemination of contaminants into established tourist hubs including cruise ship and airline carriers," he noted.

What’s more, many travelers and healthcare providers may not recognize the signs and symptoms of such infections, which may be mistaken for simple gastrointestinal problems and the flu.

"To prevent and control the spreading of sea turtle-related disease, greater awareness is needed among healthcare professionals regarding potential pathogens and toxic contaminants from sea turtles, as well as key signs and symptoms of typical illnesses," he said.

He advised travelers to avoid food derived from sea turtles and possibly other animals featured in such attractions.

The study was funded by the World Society for the Protection of Animals.

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Tourist attraction that feature interactions with sea turtles can put them at risk of many infectious diseases.
Sea Turtles sicken Tourists
Wednesday, 06 February 2013 04:57 PM
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