TWO newborns were left fighting for life after contracting terrapin-related botulism, it has emerged.
Both babies were just 11 days old when they were rushed to hospital with the disease, which is linked to pet turtles.
The cases are the first of their kind in Ireland, the Irish Daily Mail reports.
The first case was recorded here in December 2010, and the second in March of 2013.
In the first case, the baby boy lived in a home where there was a pet yellow-bellied terrapin.
In the second case, the baby had been in the home of a relative who had pet turtle, and was held and fed by the owner.
Both infants fully recovered from the infection, following rapid treatment by medics.
The botulism-causing toxin was found in the tanks of both turtles.
Symptoms of the infection begin with constipation, followed by lethargy, poor feeding, loss of head control, difficulty swallowing and weakness.
In the most severe cases breathing problems can develop, as well as paralysis.
Honey is considered the main botulism threat to infants, however turtles are also known to be a cause.
The ownership of the reptiles as pets spiked after the popularity of the ‘Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles’ movies and TV shows.
The HSE has advised owners to ensure they wash their hands thoroughly after handling and feeding turtles, as well as ensuring they remain in their tank and can’t roam freely around the house.