June 4, 2020

Salmonella and Backyard Poultry Flocks

This is the time of year when many Americans begin laying plans to care for backyard poultry flocks. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize how easy it is to contract Salmonella infections tending these flocks and children are often hardest hit by these illnesses.

Baby chicksThere have been five Salmonella outbreaks linked to live poultry since 2012. On average, about 30 percent of those sickened are children under 10.

These outbreaks are linked chicks, ducklings and other live poultry supplied by mail-order hatcheries either directly or through feed stores and others companies, all of which are supposed to provide health-related information to owners and potential buyers, including information about the risk of Salmonella. 

Anyone handling live poultry, or anything in the area where they live and roam, should wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right afterwards. Live poultry should not be allowed inside the house.

Children under 5 should not be allowed to handle love birds. Children over 5 should only handle birds while supervised by adults who should also supervise hand washing immediately afterwards.

In 2014, a live poultry outbreak sickened 363 people in 43 states and Puerto Rico were infected with outbreak strains of Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Newport, or Salmonella Hadar. Thirty-three percent of those sickened were hospitalized.

The outbreak was linked to chicks, ducklings and other live poultry from Mt. Healthy Hatcheries in Ohio, the same mail-order hatchery that has been associated with Salmonella outbreaks in 2012 and 2013.

In 2013, there were two outbreaks. The first was linked to Mt Healthy Hatchery which sickened 158 people in 30 states with four outbreak strains: Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Lille, Salmonella Newport and Salmonella Mbandaka. Forty one percent of those sickened were children 10 years of age or younger. Twenty nine people were hospitalized.

The second outbreak, was linked to 18 mail-order hatcheries including Privett Hatchery in Portales, New Mexico. At least 356 people in 39 states got sick and 62 were hospitalized. About 57 percent of those sickened were children 10 and under

In 2012, an outbreak linked to Mt. Healthy Hatchery in Ohio,  sickened 195 people, one third of whom required hospitalization. Two people died.

Another Salmonella outbreak linked to chicks and ducks produced by Estes Hatchery in Springfield, Missouri sickened  93 people in 23 states and  Puerto Rico. Twenty one people were hospitalized. Children 10 and under accounted for 38 percent of those sickened. 

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