In the first four months of 2016, there have been seven different Salmonella infection outbreaks spanning 35 states. At least 324 people were sickened and the outbreaks are ongoing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Confirmed via lab testing, the Salmonella outbreaks involve seven different strains of the bacteria. Sixty-six people were hospitalized, and one death was reported, although Salmonella infection was not considered to be a contributing factor in the reported death.
According to the Mayo Clinic there are more than 2,000 strains of salmonella bacteria, but only a dozen or so make people sick. Possible signs and symptoms of infection include:
The outbreaks were linked back, in multiple cases, to individuals interacting with live poultry, including ducklings and chicks from various hatcheries, according to the CDC. No matter where they were bought, all live poultry can carry Salmonella bacteria, even if they look healthy and clean.
Is is expected for the outbreaks to continue for the next several months, because flock owners may be unaware of the risk of Salmonella infection from live poultry or participate in risky behaviors that can result in infection.
Backyard flock owners are being advised by the CDC to follow the following precautions:
- Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Also wash your hands after handling clothes and shoes that have touched live poultry. Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer until you are able to wash your hands with soap and water.
- Do not let live poultry inside the house, in bathrooms, or especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens or outdoor patios.
- Do not eat or drink in the area where the birds live or roam.
- Children younger than 5 years, adults older than 65, and people with weakened immune systems should not handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry. People in these groups are more likely to have a severe illness from Salmonella infection.
- Do not snuggle or kiss the birds, touch your mouth, or eat or drink around live poultry.
- Stay outdoors when cleaning any equipment or materials used to raise or care for live poultry, such as cages, feed, or water containers.
- Read CDC’s recommendations for taking care of your backyard flock, which apply to all live poultry, regardless of the age of the birds or where they were purchased.