Seafood lovers, take note! Consuming soft shelled turtles may spread cholera – a life- threatening diarrhoeal disease, a new Chinese study warns.

A pathogen called Vibrio cholerae can colonise the surfaces, as well as the intestines of soft shelled turtles, researchers said.

Researchers from Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention inserted the genes producing bio-luminescent proteins into V cholerae that enabled them to directly observe the pathogens colonising the turtles.

The team infected turtles, by dipping them in a phosphate buffered saline solution containing the now bio luminescent bacteria, serogroup 0139.

Over the next four days, the researchers checked the turtles at 24 hour intervals. They first detected light signals at 24 hours. At 96 hours, the entire dorsal side of the turtles' shells was emitting bio luminescence.

The latter was also easily detected on the dorsal side of the turtles' limbs and necks, and in the calipash, the gelatinous protoplasm, regarded as a delicacy, that lies directly beneath the shells' surface.

Determining intestinal colonisation was more difficult.