The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating outbreaks of salmonella linked to turtles in 27 states, according to a report Monday by the Washington state Department of Health.
At least 124 people have been affected by the outbreak.
Washington is not among states with cases under investigation, but the department urges parents to practice safe habits with their children when handling reptiles and amphibians, which can carry salmonella, especially in their waste.
Children should not touch their mouths, eat or drink around these animals. After contact, people should wash their hands.
Small turtles have been linked to outbreaks in the past, so federal law prohibits the sale of turtles with shells smaller than 4 inches.
Children under 5 carry more risk for illness from salmonella and health officials recommend that reptiles and amphibians be kept out of homes, schools or other places where young children may be present.