“After you touch your ducklings or chicks, wash your hands so you don’t get sick!”

ducklings-featured.jpgSo reads the beginning of a new pamphlet designed to educate the public on how to properly handle live poultry in order to avoid Salmonella poisoning.

The brochure, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), was created to address the ongoing concern of Salmonella outbreaks linked to contact with live birds such as baby chickens and ducklings.

“Between 1990 and 2010, there were 29 outbreaks of human Salmonella infection linked with exposure to live poultry reported to CDC,” said Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh, veterinary epidemiologist at the CDC and co-creator of the pamphlet, in an interview with Food Safety News.

In 2006 and 2007 alone, over 160 cases of salmonellosis were traced back to live poultry sources, according to CDC

Bird-related Salmonella outbreaks often originate in animals purchased from mail-order hatcheries or from agricultural feed stores, CDC reports. Poultry become contaminated when they come into contact with feces carrying the bacteria, and can then pass these germs on to humans.

The makers of this information sheet hope that it will spread faster than Salmonella infections this year.

“They can be distributed to hatcheries, to agricultural feed stores, basically to anyone who raises or sells live poultry” says Behravesh.

The pamphlet was released this spring so that it would have an impact during the time of year when handling young chicks is most common.

“We wanted it to come out this spring because this was the peak baby bird season, when people are buying chicks and ducklings for Easter time and starting to raise their own backyard flocks,” explains Behravesh.

The guide recommends several precautions for keeping families safe when visiting the chicken coop, including:

— Wash hands thoroughly both before and after touching live poultry or anything in their habitat

— Clean any equipment used to raise poultry, such as cages or feed water containers, outside the house

— Don’t let children under 5, elders or people with compromised immune systems touch chick, ducklings, or other live birds

— Don’t allow poultry inside the house, especially in bathrooms or areas where food is prepared and stored

– Don’t snuggle or kiss birds

– Don’t eat or drink or touch your hands to your mouth when around live poultry

According to Behravesh, this brochure represents a collaborative effort between public health experts from various sectors.

“This is a relatively new approach … where physicians and veterinarians and others work together to promote public health and prevent illnesses,” she says.

To see the pamphlet, click here.