Please sign here for your order of … Salmonella? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 35 Salmonella outbreaks have been linked to contact with live poultry from mail-order hatcheries since 1990.
Just last summer, two clusters of Salmonella infections sickened almost 100 people in 24 states. One serotype, Salmonella Altona, struck 68 individuals, of whom 32 percent were 5 years old or younger. The other strain – Salmonella Johannesburg, caused 28 illnesses, 71 percent of which were in children 5 and under.
“These outbreaks highlight the ongoing risk for human Salmonella infections associated with live poultry contact, especially for young children,” said a CDC report this week.
Most patients in both clusters (or their parents) reported purchasing chicks or ducklings at different branches of a feed store that source from the same mail-order hatchery.
To confront this public health problem, government animal health agencies are teaming up with the USDA’s National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) and the mail order hatchery industry among other partners “to develop and implement a comprehensive Salmonella control strategy” for poultry.
The CDC advises that hatcheries comply with NPIP Salmonella guidelines and should not transport chicks from one hatchery to another before distribution.
It also recommends that instruction materials on safe handling of chicks be given to anyone buying live poultry.
Though poultry is a more common source of zoonotic disease, other household animals have also been known to carry pathogens.
In April 2011, pet African dwarf frogs carrying Salmonella sickened at least 217 people in 41 states.
In 2010 an outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis was linked to pet guinea pigs when 11 owners of these pets across 8 states developed the same strain of infection. This information was presented at the recent International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases.