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CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service Shares Recent Zoonotic Disease Research

Kelly J. Gambino-Shirley, DVM, MPH, and her co-authors found that small turtles remain a source for human Salmonella infections, especially among young children, but that transient turtle vendors may make traceback to the farms they come from difficult. In 2015, the CDC received a consumer complaint of Salmonella Sandiego (SS) transmitted to a child from a small turtle.
Researchers identified 125 cases from 22 states. Of these, 34 (27%) were under 1 year of age and 40 (75%) of 53 patients with ethnicity information were Hispanic. Of 74 patients interviewed, 41 (55%) had been exposed to turtles bought from stores, street vendors, flea markets, or as carnival prizes or gifts. Seven environmental samples matched outbreak strains, and traceback for one patient’s turtle identified a farm with Salmonella-contaminated water, but the outbreak strains were not identified. Zoonotic Salmonella transmission causes an estimated 11% of salmonellosis in the United States, and the researchers advised that prevention messages be translated into the languages of people at high risk.
Ashley R. Styczynski, MD, MPH, found the first confirmation of emerging zoonotic vaccinia in South America outside Brazil. In early 2014, Colombian health authorities contacted CDC about suspected poxvirus infections in farmworkers and dairy cattle, and the agencies collaborated to confirm vaccinia virus as the cause.
Interviews discovered 5 workers and 15 cows at 8 farms with a history of vaccinia-like lesions. Of the 17 human serum samples collected, 10 had anti-orthopoxvirus IgM and 15 had anti-orthopoxvirus IgG. Of 6 skin lesion specimens tested by polymerase chain reaction, 3 were positive, 1 was inconclusive, and 2 were negative. A vaccinia virus strain closely related to a phylogenetic group of strains in Brazil was identified. Due to the risk of inter-human spread in communities and healthcare settings and the impact on agriculture, she advised heightened surveillance, risk factor assessments, and identification of potential animal reservoirs to help prevention and control.

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