The research was based on a case study of the Cayman Turtle Farm in Grand Cayman that included reports of illness from visitors to the attraction between 2007 and 2011.
The researchers point out that contact between humans and captive (caged) sea turtles is different from contact between humans and free sea turtles.
The caged animals have a higher probability of developing diseases that can affect people due to the number of animals kept in a small area and higher potential for the development of bacterial, fungal, parasitic, and viral diseases that can be passed on to people.
Sea turtle and human contact can produce gastrointestinal disorders or flu like symptoms. More serious human disease can include septicaemia, pneumonia, meningitis and acute kidney failure.
The researchers note that most doctors are not aware of the potential of serious diseases that can be spread by human to captive turtle contact. The research intends to rectify this problem.
The majority of cases of serious disease were linked to the consumption of farmed sea turtle meat. The researchers advise tourists to avoid any sea turtle meat or food farmed from captive sea turtles.