The number of people confirmed with Salmonella infections from backyard poultry flocks has increased more than 400 percent since May 10, with a third of the sick people younger than 5 years old.
In an update this afternoon, the CDC reported that as of June 7 there were 279 people across 41 states who have been infected. In a previous update posted May 16, the agency said that as of May 10 it had received reports on a total of 52 people across 21 states who had been sickened in multiple multistate outbreaks this year.
Of the 152 patients for whom the information is available, more than a fourth had to be admitted to hospitals because their symptoms were so severe, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No confirmed deaths have been reported.
“Illnesses started on dates from Jan. 1, 2019, to May 24, 2019. Ill people range in age from less than one year to 92 years, with a median age of 25 years. Fifty-seven percent are female,” according to today’s update from the CDC.
“(Whole genome sequencing) WGS analysis of 24 isolates from ill people predicted antibiotic resistance to amoxicillin-clavulanic acid, ampicillin, cefoxitin, ceftriaxone, fosfomycin, gentamicin, kanamycin, streptomycin, sulfisoxazole, tetracycline, or trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole.”
Victims told investigators they got chicks and ducklings for their backyard flocks from agricultural stores, websites, and hatcheries. People can become infected with pathogens such as Salmonella bacteria from touching poultry or their environment, according to the CDC. Birds carrying the bacteria can appear healthy and clean.
In addition to becoming infected themselves, people who handle live poultry or come into contact with their habitats and things in the habitats can pass the bacteria to other people. They can also contaminate food, surfaces such as kitchen counters and cooking utensils, pets’ food and water bowls, and virtually everything in their homes.
Children are particularly susceptible to serious infections because their immune systems are not fully developed. Similarly, older adults and anyone with a weakened immune system, such as cancer patients, transplant recipients, and pregnant women, can become infected easily and develop serious illnesses.
Proper handwashing goes a long way in preventing such infections. Adults should supervise children older than 5 years while they are handling or near live birds of all kinds, being sure to keep them from touching their faces and mouths. Children younger than 5 should not be allowed to touch live poultry or items from their habitats, according to the CDC.
After handing live poultry or items from their habitats, everyone should wash their hands with soap and warm water, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds before thoroughly rinsing.
The CDC offers the following advice:
- Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching poultry or anything in their environment. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not immediately available.
- Do not let backyard poultry inside the house, including in bathrooms. Be especially careful to keep them out of areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens and outdoor patios.
- Set aside a pair of shoes to wear while taking care of your birds and keep those outsides of your home.
- Children younger than 5, adults over 65, and people who have health problems or take medicines that lower the body’s ability to fight germs and sickness shouldn’t handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other poultry.
- Don’t eat or drink where poultry lives or roam.
- Don’t kiss backyard poultry, or snuggle them.
- Stay outdoors when cleaning any equipment or materials used to raise or care for poultry, such as cages, or feed or water containers.
- More information can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/pets/farm-animals/backyard-poultry.html.
Information about Salmonella infections
Live poultry and other animals carrying or infected with Salmonella often do not show signs or symptoms.
Also, food that is contaminated with Salmonella bacteria usually does not look, smell or taste spoiled. People who become ill after being around live poultry should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria. Special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.
Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients need to be hospitalized.
Older adults, children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions.
It is possible for some people to be infected with the bacteria and to not get sick or show any symptoms, but to still be able to spread the infection to others.
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