Salmonella traced to backyard flocks and pet chicks and ducklings continues to claim victims, with public health officials now tracking eight outbreaks across 45 states. chick-nuzzler-406Since the outbreaks were reported on June 2, there have been 287 confirmed cases added, bringing the total to 611 people sickened, according to an update this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At least 138 outbreak victims had to be hospitalized, according to information available on 496 of the outbreak victims. The illnesses began Jan. 4 and are ongoing. People who became ill after June 16 may not yet be reflected in the outbreak statistics because of the lag time between onset of symptoms and data being reported to federal officials. “These outbreaks are expected to continue for the next several months since flock owners might be unaware of the risk of Salmonella infection from live poultry or participate in risky behaviors that can result in infection,” according to the CDC. In interviews, 434 of 493 ill people told health officials they had been in contact with live poultry, including chicks, chickens, ducks and ducklings, during the week before they became sick. Victims reported buying live baby poultry from several suppliers, including feed supply stores, Internet sites, hatcheries and friends in multiple states. Some of the places ill people reported contact with live poultry include their home, someone else’s home, work or school settings. “Epidemiologic, traceback and laboratory findings have linked the eight outbreaks to contact with live poultry such as chicks and ducklings sourced from multiple hatcheries,” CDC reported. “Regardless of where they were purchased, all live poultry can carry Salmonella bacteria, even if they look healthy and clean.” To help prevent the spread of Salmonella bacteria, the CDC advises consumers to:

  • Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where the birds live and roam;
  • Do not let live poultry inside the house; and
  • Do not let children younger than 5 years of age handle or touch chicks, ducklings or other live poultry without adult supervision.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)