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Poultry dangers: Live birds blamed for 7 ongoing outbreaks

Seven separate Salmonella outbreaks across 35 states sickened more than 300 people in the first four months of this year and are ongoing. All the outbreaks are being blamed on live poultry from “backyard flocks.”

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-baby-chickens-image19791491Public health officials from local to federal levels, along with veterinary and agriculture officials across the country are collaborating with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on the outbreak investigations, according to an announcement Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Of 238 patients interviewed so far, 91 percent of them — 217 — reported having contact with live poultry in the week before their symptoms began.

“Ill people reported purchasing live baby poultry from several different suppliers, including feed supply stores, co-ops, hatcheries and friends in multiple states,” the CDC reported.

“Ill people reported purchasing live poultry to produce eggs, learn about agriculture, have as a hobby, enjoy for fun, keep as pets, or to give as Easter gifts. Some of the places ill people reported contact with live poultry include at their home, someone else’s home, work or school settings.”

The 324 outbreak victims’ illnesses started on dates ranging from Jan. 4 through May 11. Additional outbreak cases could be identified because of the month or longer lag time between illness diagnosis and reporting to the CDC.

So far the one outbreak strain tested appears to be susceptible to antibiotics. The CDC’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) human surveillance program is continuing antibiotic-resistance testing on additional clinical isolates collected from ill persons infected with one of the outbreak strains. Results will be reported when they become available.

Baby ducklingsCute, cuddly and contaminated
In announcing the seven outbreak investigations, the CDC reminded the public of the dangers associated with live poultry.

“Regardless of where they are purchased, live poultry may have Salmonella germs in their droppings and on their bodies, feathers, feet and beaks even when they appear healthy and clean. The germs can also get on cages, coops, hay, plants, and soil in the area where the birds live and roam,” the CDC warned.

“People, especially children, can be exposed to Salmonella by holding, cuddling, or kissing the birds and by touching things where the bird lives, such as cages or feed and water bowls.”

Public health investigators are using the CDC’s PulseNet system to identify illnesses that may be part of these outbreaks. PulseNet is a national subtyping network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories. PulseNet performs DNA fingerprinting on Salmonella and other pathogens isolated from ill people by using techniques called pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and whole genome sequencing (WGS). CDC PulseNet manages a national database of these DNA fingerprints used to identify possible outbreaks.

Investigation summaries

Outbreak 1: Salmonella Enteritidis
A total of 132 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Enteritidis were reported from 15 states.

The states and number of ill people identified are: California 6, Connecticut 4, Florida 8, Kentucky 15, Maryland 1, Michigan 25, Minnesota 1, North Carolina 3, New York 23, Ohio 18, Oklahoma 1, Pennsylvania 9, Rhode Island 2, Virginia 4 and Vermont 12.

Among people who reported the date they became ill, illnesses began between Jan. 4 and May 11. Ill people ranged in age from younger than 1 year to 87, with a median age of 18. Of ill people, 58 percent were female. Among the 106 ill people with available information, 18 of them, or 17%, were hospitalized. One death was reported, but Salmonella infection was not considered to be a contributing factor.

Local health officials in Michigan collected environmental samples from live poultry at feed stores; testing was performed at the state lab and the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis was isolated.

Samples from live poultry and their environment were collected at the Minnesota patients’ home. Four of six samples, all from poultry purchased this spring, contained the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis.

Outbreak 2: Salmonella Muenster
Nineteen people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Muenster were reported from seven states.

The states and number of ill people are: Indiana 1, Kentucky 1, Michigan 4, Missouri 1, Ohio 7, Pennsylvania 2 and Tennessee 3.

In interviews, ill people answered questions about contact with animals in the week before they became ill. Of the 15 ill people who were interviewed, 12 of them,  or 80 percent, reported contact with live poultry.

Among people who reported the date they became ill, illnesses began between March 11 and May 9. Ill people ranged in age from younger than 1 year to 71, with a median age of 3. Of ill people, 58 percent were male. Among the 14 ill people with available information, 6 of them, or 43 percent, were hospitalized. No deaths were reported.

Local health officials in Michigan collected environmental samples from live poultry at feed stores; testing was performed at the state lab and the outbreak strain of Salmonella Muenster was isolated.

Outbreak 3: Salmonella Hadar
Forty-two people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Hadar were reported from 15 states.

The states and number of ill people are: Alabama 1, Arkansas 2, Colorado 2, Georgia 1, Massachusetts 1, Montana 6, North Carolina 7, North Dakota 1, Oregon 1, Pennsylvania 4, South Carolina 6, South Dakota 1, Texas 1, Virginia 5 and West Virginia 3.

In interviews, ill people answered questions about contact with animals in the week before they became ill. Of the 29 ill people who were interviewed, 27 of them, or 93 percent, reported contact with live poultry.

Among people who reported the date they became ill, illnesses began between March 21 and May 6. Ill people ranged in age from less than 1 year to 77, with a median age of 30. Of ill people, 53 percent were female. Among the 31 ill people with available information, 11 of them, or 35 percent, were hospitalized. No deaths were reported

Outbreak 4: Salmonella Indiana
Forty-six people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Indiana were reported from 13 states.

The states and number of ill people are: Alabama 4, Arkansas 2, California 2, Colorado 1, Georgia 2, Mississippi 1, Montana 4, North Carolina 10, North Dakota 1, South Carolina 2, South Dakota 2, Virginia 7 and West Virginia 8.

In interviews, ill people answered questions about contact with animals in the week before they became ill. Of the 23 ill people who were interviewed, 18 of them, or 78 percent, reported contact with live poultry.

Among people who reported the date they became ill, illnesses began between March 26 and May 9 Ill people ranged in age from less than 1 year to 87, with a median age of 7. Of ill people, 66 percent were male. Among the 26 ill people with available information, 7 of them, or 27 percent, were hospitalized. No deaths were reported.

Outbreak 5: Salmonella Mbandaka
Twelve people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Mbandaka were reported from seven states.

The states and number of ill people are: Alabama 4, Arkansas 1, Indiana 1, Michigan 2, North Carolina 2, Texas 1 and Virginia 1.

In interviews, ill people answered questions about contact with animals in the week before they became ill. Of the 10 ill people who were interviewed, 9 of them, or 90 percent, reported contact with live poultry.

Among people who reported the date they became ill, illnesses began between March 13 and May 4, 2016. Ill people ranged in age from younger than 1 year to 92, with a median age of 11. Of ill people, 64 percent were female. Among the 10 ill people with available information, 2 of them, or 20 percent, were hospitalized. No deaths were reported.

Outbreak 6: Salmonella Infantis
Thirty-five people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Infantis were reported from 16 states.

The states and number of ill people are: Georgia 2, Iowa 1, Illinois 4, Indiana 4, Massachusetts 1, Maryland 1, Missouri 2, North Carolina 4, New York 3, Ohio 1, Pennsylvania 4, South Carolina 1, Texas 1, Virginia 2, Wisconsin 2 and West Virginia 2.

In interviews, ill people answered questions about contact with animals in the week before they became ill. Of the 18 ill people who were interviewed, 13 of them, or 72 percent, reported contact with live poultry.

Among people who reported the date they became ill, illnesses began between Feb. 19 and May 9. Ill people ranged in age from less than 1 year to 86, with a median age of 14. Of ill people, 56 percent were female. Among the 23 ill people with available information, 15 of them, or 65 percent, were hospitalized. No deaths were reported.

Outbreak 7: Salmonella Braenderup
Thirty-eight people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Braenderup were reported from 14 states.

The states and number of ill people are: Arkansas 1, Illinois 1, Indiana 1, Kentucky 5, Massachusetts 2, Maryland 1, Michigan 3, Missouri 4, New York 8, Ohio 7, Pennsylvania 1, Texas 1, Utah 1 and Wisconsin 2.

In interviews, ill people answered questions about contact with animals in the week before they became ill. Of the 24 ill people who were interviewed, 19 of them, or 79 percent, reported contact with live poultry.

Among people who reported the date they became ill, illnesses began between Jan. 27 and May 5. Ill people ranged in age from less than1 year to 84, with a median age of 34. Of ill people, 65 percent were female. Among the 24 ill people with available information, 7 of them, or 29 percent, were hospitalized. No deaths were reported.

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