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Toll Grows in Outbreak Linked to Chicks, Ducklings

Fresh eggs, garden compost and natural pest control — those are just some of the benefits backyard chickens provide.


But with at least 92 individuals — many of them children — now sickened by two strains of Salmonella in a multistate outbreak tied to homegrown poultry, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a safety reminder Tuesday and asked people to spread the word:

Wash your hands thoroughly after handling your flock. Don’t snuggle or kiss pet poultry. Especially don’t let children nuzzle the birds.

The outbreak of Salmonella Altona and Salmonella Johannesburg, both rare types of the bacteria, has been traced to chicks and ducklings from a single mail-order hatchery in Ohio. The CDC’s latest update on the outbreak doesn’t name the hatchery, but in June the Ohio state departments of health and agriculture identified it as Mt. Healthy Hatchery.

The CDC update said 65 people have been infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Altona in 20 states and 27 people have been infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Johannesburg in 15 states. Nearly three-quarters of those interviewed reported contact with live poultry before they got sick.

The S. Altona outbreak investigation found that:

— Case patients range in age from less than one year to 92 years old, and 32 percent of those ill are 5 years or younger.  Among the 57 patients with available information, 17 were hospitalized with severe symptoms.

— Lab tests results detected the outbreak strain of bacteria on three samples from a chick and its environment collected from a case patient’s household in Ohio, three samples collected from chick and duckling displays at two locations of Feed Store Chain A in North Carolina, and three samples from a chicken and two ducks collected from a case patient’s household in Vermont.

— Ohio reported 12 confirmed cases; North Carolina 8; Virginia 7; Pennsylvania 6; Kentucky and Maryland 5; West Virginia and New York  4; Tennessee 3; and Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont and Wisconsin each reported one case.

The S. Johannesburg outbreak investigation found that:

— Case patients range in age from less than one year to 60 years old, and 74 percent are 5 years or younger. Among the 21 patients with available information, 8 were hospitalized with severe illness.


— New York and North Carolina have reported 4 cases; Ohio 3; Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Vermont 2 ; and Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and West Virginia each reported one case.

Working with the mail-order hatchery industry, consumers, state and local health departments and state agriculture departments, CDC and USDA have created new educational materials on human Salmonella infections associated with chicks, chickens, ducklings, ducks, geese, and turkeys.

poster with safety tips can be accessed at the following websites so other organizations can link to it online: http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/resources/salmonella-baby-poultry.pdf (English) and http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/resources/salmonella-baby-poultry-spanish.pdf (Spanish).

And the CDC repeated the simple ways to avoid salmonellosis if you’re raising your own poultry:

— Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.

— If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer until you are able to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

— Clean any equipment or materials associated with raising or caring for live poultry outside the house, such as cages or feed or water containers.

— Children younger than 5 years of age, elderly persons, or people with weak immune systems should not handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry.

— Poultry should not be inside the house, in bathrooms, or especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens, or outdoor patios.

— Do not snuggle or kiss the birds, touch your mouth, or eat or drink around live poultry.

The CDC recommends that mail-order hatcheries, agricultural feed stores, and others who sell or display chicks, ducklings and other live poultry provide health-related information to potential poultry purchasers. This should include information about the risk of acquiring a Salmonella infection from contact with live poultry.

And mail-order hatcheries and agricultural feed stores should have risk-control procedures in place to prevent human Salmonella infections from contact with live poultry.


— CDC outbreak map

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