September 23, 2018

Multistate Outbreak of Human Salmonella Infections Linked to Chicks and Ducks

The CDC is reporting an outbreak of human Salmonella infections linked to live poultry. Outbreak strains of Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Newport, and Salmonella Lille have sickened 93 people in 23 states. Eighteen people have been hospitalized, and there has been one death that may be related to the outbreak and is under investigation. The outbreak began in February 2012.

Case counts are as follows:

  • Alabama (3)
  • Georgia (3)
  • Illinois (1)
  • Indiana (2)
  • Kentucky (4)
  • Louisiana (1)
  • Maine (2)
  • Maryland (1)
  • Massachusetts (1)
  • Michigan (1)
  • Nebraska (1)
  • New Jersey (1)
  • New York (13)
  • North Carolina (9)
  • Ohio (26)
  • Pennsylvania (9)
  • Rhode Island (1)
  • South Carolina (1)
  • Tennessee (4)
  • Texas (1)
  • Vermont (1)
  • Virginia (6)
  • West Virginia (1)

The government says that 37% of the patients are children 10 years of age or younger. Patients range in age from less than one year old to 100 years old. Fifty-one percent of the patients are female.

Investigators have identified one mail-order hatchery in Ohio as the source of the birds, but they are not naming that facility. This is the same facility that was associated with the 2011 outbreak of Salmonella Altona and Salmonella Johannesburg infections in 2011. That year, the Ohio Department of Health identified that hatchery as Mt. Healthy Hatchery.

Stores that sell live poultry, including mail-order hatcheries and agricultural feed stores, should give health information to purchasers before they receive the chicks and ducks, including information about the risk of getting Salmonella from birds.

The bacteria can be on the bird’s bodies, feathers, feet, and beaks, and can get into cages, coops, hay, plants, and soil where the birds live. Don’t let the birds live in the house and be sure to keep them out of indoor and outdoor kitchens. Food Poisoning Bulletin reported earlier this year that it is not a good idea to give baby chicks and ducks as presents to children.

Authorities recommend that people should always wash their hands well with soap and water after touching live birds or anything in their living areas. Young children are especially vulnerable to this type of infection because the baby birds are so cute. Children should be supervised when handling the birds, and children under the age of 5 should not be allowed to touch live poultry. These animals can be carriers of Salmonella without showing any signs of illness. The government has other recommendations consumers should follow.

The government’s epi curve suggests that there will be several more cases reported, as those sickened after May 6, 2012 are not included in this report.

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