KDHE warns human Salmonella infection possible from live poultry

TOPEKA, Kan. – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is warning of the risk of human Salmonella infection from live poultry.

Live baby poultry can carry Salmonella and easily spread this bacterium to people, especially children. Outbreaks of Salmonella infections linked to live poultry occur every year. One of the largest outbreaks was in 2013 when a multistate outbreak of human Salmonella infections caused illnesses in more than 350 people from 39 states; Kansas tied for third with 19 confirmed cases. Nationally, nearly 60 percent of the cases were in children 10 years or younger. Ninety-five percent of ill people reported purchasing live poultry from agricultural feed stores.

Live baby poultry can carry and shed Salmonella but still appear healthy. Children can be exposed through direct contact, but also by touching things where the birds live. This includes cages, feed, bedding and water bowls. It is particularly important to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling or caring for baby poultry. This, along with careful cleaning of equipment and materials associated with raising or caring for live poultry, will help to reduce the risk of infection.

Although people raise poultry for meat or egg production, many children receive baby poultry as a gift during Easter. In addition, families enjoy taking their children to the local feed store to view and touch the chicks and ducklings.

To reduce the risk of Salmonella infection from live poultry:

Do

  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live baby poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available.
  • Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.
  • Clean any equipment or materials associated with raising or caring for live poultry outside the house, such as cages or feed or water containers.

Don’t

  • Don’t let children younger than 5 years of age, older adults, or people with weak immune systems handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry.
  • Don’t snuggle or kiss the birds, touch your mouth, or eat or drink around live poultry.
  • Don’t 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.
  • Don’t eat or drink in the area where the birds live or roam.
  • Don’t give live baby poultry as gifts to young children.

CDC’s website provides additional information and resources for preventing Salmonella illnesses from live poultry, see http://www.cdc.gov/features/salmonellapoultry/.

Information thanks to KDHE.

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