PASO ROBLES, Calif. - One of the most coveted prizes at the Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles this summer also happens to be illegal.
Officials with the San Luis Obispo County Health Department say workers in the carnival area are giving out small turtles as prizes for the ping-pong ball toss game.
Dr. Penny Borenstein warns that contact with baby turtles can pose a serious health risk to babies, small children and adults with impaired immune systems.
Turtles can carry the Salmonella bacteria, which can cause severe or fatal illnesses.
Traces of Salmonella can be found on the turtle's outer skin and shell.
It is imperative that those handing the turtles wash their hands thoroughly after handling them.
So far there have been no reports of anyone getting sick, but the health department doesn't want to take any chances. They are asking fair goers who've won turtles at the fair are urged to take them to the Division of Animal Services at 885 Oklahoma Ave. in San Luis Obispo.
Drop off hours are between 11am and 5pm Monday through Friday, and 11am and 4pm Saturdays.
Turtles dropped off will be placed with a local turtle and tortoise rescue organization.