Health

Backyard flocks spreading Salmonella; 6 outbreaks ongoing

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More than a fourth of 212 people infected with Salmonella from backyard flocks so far this year are children younger than 5 years old, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting six separate outbreaks across 44 states.

The CDC posted a public warning in recent days; “This investigation is ongoing, and CDC will provide updates when more information is available.”

From Feb. 15 through July 13, the CDC received confirmation of 212 people with Salmonella infections. Epidemiologists linked the outbreaks to contact with live poultry, such as chicks and ducklings. Of those, 34 had symptoms so severe they required hospitalization. Twenty-six percent of the infected people are children younger than 5 years old.

Public health officials have interviewed 138 of the sick people and 100 of them, or 72 percent, reported contact with live poultry in the week before they became ill.

“Epidemiologic, traceback, and laboratory findings link these outbreaks to contact with live poultry, such as chicks and ducklings, which come from multiple hatcheries,” according to the CDC.

“People reported obtaining chicks and ducklings from several sources, including feed supply stores, websites, hatcheries, and from relatives.”

Six different types of Salmonella have been confirmed in the so-called “backyard flock” outbreak victims: Salmonella Seftenberg, Salmonella Montevideo, Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Enteritidis, Salmonella Indiana, and SalmonellaLitchfield.

Public health officials at local, state and federal levels have seen an increase in the number of people infected with Salmonella from backyard flocks and pet poultry. In 2017 the CDC reported record-setting numbers. The United States had 1,120 confirmed cases across 48 states with 249 hospitalizations and one death.

While contracting Salmonella, E. coli, Campylobacter and other bacteria from live poultry is relatively easy, the preventive measures recommended by public health officials are also easy, but must be practiced diligently. Tips include:

  • Wash hands after handling live poultry.
  • Assist children to make sure they wash their hands properly.
  • Supervise children when they are around the poultry, enclosures, feed, water and litter.
  • Do not allow live chickens, ducks, or geese in homes, especially kitchens or eating areas.
  • Do not allow children younger than 5 years to handle or touch live poultry and eggs without supervision.
  • Do not snuggle or kiss the birds.
  • Do not touch your face or mouth until you wash your hands.
  • Do not eat or drink around live poultry.

Additional advice for the public
Anyone who has had contact with live poultry and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctors about the possible exposure so that the proper diagnostic tests can be performed.

Illness from Salmonella usually lasts four to seven days, and most otherwise healthy adults recover without treatment. However, in some, the diarrhea may be so severe that patients need to be hospitalized.

Salmonella infections are more likely to be severe for children younger than 5 years, older adults and people with weakened immune systems, such as people with cancer, diabetes, and liver or kidney disease.

More tips for backyard flock owners to prevent infection can be found on the CDC website.

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