KDHE, KDA warn of risk of infection from poultry, even cute, cuddly Easter chicks

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Easter chicks: Fluffy, adorable and possibly carrying infectious diseases.

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

The beginning of spring includes blooms, blossoms, and baby poultry. Although adorable, live baby poultry can carry Salmonella and easily spread this bacterium to people, especially children. During 2013 a large, multistate outbreak of human Salmonella Typhimurium infections were linked to live poultry. More than 350 people were infected 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,” said Robert Moser, MD, Secretary and State Health Officer.

Children can be exposed through direct contact, such as holding, cuddling, or kissing the birds, 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,” Moser said.

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.

The USDA has information on how to keep birds healthy and disease prevention practices. This information is for anyone who has birds including poultry, pets, or wild birds, at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/birdbiosecurity/.


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