An infant in Ireland is recovering after a bout with botulism type E, most likely due to exposure to a pet turtle or turtle feed.
Dr Paul McKeown, a specialist in public health medicine at the national Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) warned that reptiles are not appropriate pets for children under the age of five.
Reptiles such as snakes, lizards, tortoises, turtles and terrapins have become extremely popular as pets, he said, but they require careful handling as they carry a range of germs that can lead to illness. Washing hands after touching them is very important.
“Given the risks, reptiles should not be kept as pets in a house where there are children under the age of five,” he added.
There are a number of different types of botulism toxin but the type which the baby picked up – type E – is so rare it was only the seventh case ever reported in an infant worldwide, the centre said.