The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) called for vigilance against Salmonella outbreaks linked to backyard poultry such as hens, roosters, chickens and ducks after they were linked to more than 200 Salmonella illnesses so far this year.
Backyard poultry, such as chickens and ducks, can carry salmonella germs even if they appear healthy and clean, the agency said.
These germs can easily spread anywhere in the areas where poultry live and roam.
People, he said, can get sick by touching poultry in their backyard or anything in their environment and then touching their mouth or food and swallowing salmonella germs.
So far, 219 illnesses have been reported in 38 states, including California, and 27 people have been hospitalized, while one in four people sickened are children under the age of 5.
The outbreak has already claimed the life of one person in Tennessee, so the agency is calling for vigilance for possible infections.
"The actual number of people sickened is likely to be much higher than the number reported, as many people recover without medical care and are not tested for salmonella," CDC detailed.
These outbreaks occur annually and coincide with increased purchases of baby poultry beginning in the spring. Last year, in 2021, a total of 1,135 people became ill from contact with backyard poultry.
It should be noted that these Salmonella outbreaks are not related to recent cases of H5N1 avian influenza virus detected in U.S. wild birds and poultry. However, backyard poultry owners should be aware that the steps necessary to stay healthy around their flocks are similar for both diseases.
It should be noted that most people infected with salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps within 6 hours to 6 days after being exposed to the bacteria.
The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days and most people recover without treatment, however, in some people, the illness may be so severe that the patient is hospitalized.
Children under 5 years of age, adults 65 years of age or older and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have a serious illness, so if you notice any of the above symptoms, you should call and go to your nearest health care facility.
Some of the measures to enjoy your birds while keeping them healthy are:
- Always wash your hands for 20 seconds after handling birds, their supplies or collecting eggs.
- Wear a pair of shoes or boots exclusively for your coop and do not wear them indoors.
- Keep birds and supplies out of the house to prevent the spread of germs in your home.
- Do not allow children under 5 years of age to touch birds - including chicks and ducklings - or anything in the area where birds live and roam. This helps protect young children from getting sick, as their immune systems are still developing and they are more likely to put objects in their mouths or not wash their hands properly.
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