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126 Sickened by Salmonella in Live Poultry Outbreak

Hatchery has long history of outbreaks

At least 126 people have been sickened, according to the latest case count from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of an ongoing Salmonella outbreak linked to live poultry in 26 states.

The case count has more than doubled since 60 illnesses were first announced on May 8.

At least 35 percent of patients have been hospitalized. Of those ill, 82 percent say they had contact with live poultry in the week before their symptoms began.

The poultry in question came from Mt. Healthy Hatcheries in Springfield Township, OH, which has a long history of Salmonella outbreaks connected to its baby chicks and ducklings. Among them, the hatchery was connected to a Salmonella outbreak that sickened at least 195 people and killed two.

Investigators at CDC say that multiple traceback investigations of live poultry from homes of sickened individuals all point to Mt. Healthy Hatcheries as the source in the latest outbreak.

Illnesses in this outbreak began between February 4 and May 15, with patients ranging in age from infants to 95 years old. Of those ill, 39 percent are 10 years old or younger.

Mt. Healthy Hatchery ships birds to a variety of retailers. The company says it is working closely with health officials to accommodate the outbreak investigation, according to a statement on its website.

The company’s statement goes on to describe a number of precautions it has implemented to prevent the spread of Salmonella contamination to poultry.

“It is important to note that although some CDC data suggests a link to chicks from our hatcheries, the vast majority of chicks we ship are not associated with this outbreak,” the hatchery said. “Mt. Healthy Hatcheries ships thousands of chicks each week to customers, and our commitment is to provide safe, healthy chicks at all times.”

Baby chicks and ducklings are commonly associated with Salmonella. Health officials advise everyone to wash their hands thoroughly after handling baby poultry. Children are especially susceptible to pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella and require extra precaution when handling poultry.

Below is a map showing the distribution of illnesses by state and an epidemiological graph of illness onset dates.

Persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Infantis or Newport, by state as of May 27, 2014

Persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Infantis or Newport, by date of illness onset as of May 27, 2014

Food Safety News produced a video on the risks associated with handling baby poultry:

© Food Safety News
  • Barb3000

    This is strange because I and others years ago handled baby chicks when they were bought at the feed store to be raised for eggs and no one became ill. They were cleaned up after every day at least twice depending on how many chicks you bought. They were kept warm with what is called a brooder that had lights in it to produce heat like a small heater. We put newspapers in the small pen that the chicks were kept in until they got older so they could be put in a fenced pen with a hen house to finish growing up. We also didn’t give them medications because they were all healthy and few died. I believe its the way these chicks are raised now by the millions on factory farms and given antibiotics they don’t need just like all of the factory farms. This won’t stop until the raising of food animals stops being managed like a factory.

    • Oginikwe

      Most of us are smart enough to wash our hands after handling them. After all, even the cleanest newspaper has them walking around in their own poop then on the hand holding them. For all the hand sanitizer hysteria, I can’t believe that people don’t adequately wash their hands after handling any animal, even pets.

      • Barb3000

        Hand washing was always done after rolling up the newspapers along with wearing rubber kitchen gloves which is plain common sense. Common sense seems in short supply these days. I also think there is a lot of folks out there that don’t really know how to cook meat to kill the bacteria that its covered with, just because a person can’t see it they seem to believe its not there. I also don’t believe that most people know how to disinfect the area where they prepared raw meat in their kitchens. I use bleach in a bottle I keep on my counter at all times.

        • Oginikwe

          We raise all our own meat and so don’t worry about the beasties all over mass-produced meat. Soap and water does the trick just fine and keeps chlorine out of the septic system as well as the environment.

  • CeePee

    Other countries very successfully control Salmonella in poultry flocks with vaccines, some of them applied over drinking water, which reduces the extra cost to a minimum. Some are available in the US as well, but it is not yet mandatory to vaccinate against Salmonella. It is about time…

  • Azaria

    I feel like if you have had that big of a problem with outbreaks in the past you would be extremely aware and trained to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I also feel like you shouldn’t let kids that young handle chickens who more than likely have Salmonella. Could a business get shut down if their LIVE animals have those diseases?