LOS ANGELES -- To date 124 people in 27 states have been reported ill in a recent salmonella outbreak linked to small pet turtles, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

There have been no deaths, but 19 people have been hospitalized.

Children age 10 or younger account for 67 percent of the reported cases of illness, the CDC said.

New York has reported 24 outbreak-related illnesses, California 21; Texas 12; Pennsylvania 9; New Jersey 7; Maryland 6; Colorado 5; Nevada 4; Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Mexico, South Carolina and Virginia each 3; Alaska, Michigan, and Ohio each two; and Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont and West Virginia each have reported single cases.

The outbreaks were caused by exposure to the turtles or their environments, such as water from their habitats.

Seventy-five percent of patients reported being exposed to turtles prior to their illness, and 93 percent of those patients said they had been exposed to small turtles, those with a shell length of less than four inches.

Small turtles are a well-known source of salmonella infections in humans and the sale and distribution of these turtles as pets has been banned in the U.S. since 1975, the CDC said.

"It's very easy to think of turtles as being a very gentle and nice pet," but many carry salmonella, without showing any signs, said Julie Harris, a scientist at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the report's lead author.

Salmonella in turtle feces can end up on their shells and body, and can spread to people who handle them.

An infected turtle can spread the same strain of salmonella to others during shipping, which may be how the outbreak occurred.

Turtles involved were bought at pet shops, flea markets, from street vendors and online.

The ban only affects turtles less than about 4 inches in diameter because of reports that young children had gotten sick after putting the small reptiles in their mouths.