Five children needed hospital treatment in an Australian state as part of a Salmonella outbreak linked to backyard poultry.

Queensland Health is investigating Salmonella Typhimurium infections predominantly among young children that had contact with backyard chickens.

As of June 26, there had been 17 cases reported across the state. Thirteen of these were children aged 11 years or younger. Five were hospitalized because of their illnesses.

Supplier investigation continuing
Dr. Alun Richards, acting executive director, Communicable Diseases Branch, Prevention Division at Queensland Health, said most patients reported handling chicks purchased in the two-week period prior to their illness.

“These chicks have been obtained from a range of produce and pet stores in Queensland. The investigation into the supplier of chicks to these stores is ongoing. Backyard poultry can harbor and shed Salmonella that cause illness in humans, even though the birds are healthy and clean,” he said.

Public health advice for owners of backyard poultry includes:

  • Always wash hands with soap and running water immediately after touching backyard poultry, their eggs, enclosures, or anything in the area where they live and roam
  • Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
  • Adults should always supervise children around poultry and ensure they wash their hands afterwards
  • Do not let children snuggle or kiss the birds, touch their mouth, or eat or drink around poultry
  • Do not let poultry inside the house

Other outbreaks
In another Australian state, officials are investigating an outbreak of a different Salmonella strain linked to contact with or consumption of eggs from backyard chickens.

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services is looking into nine cases of gastroenteritis caused by Salmonella Enteritidis. People became sick between late April and the end of May.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States is currently investigating seven multistate Salmonella outbreaks with contact with backyard poultry, such as chicks and ducklings, being the likely source.

One person has died and there are 465 confirmed patients across 42 states with 86 people requiring hospitalization. Almost a third of those ill are children younger than 5 years old. Salmonella serotypes involved are Hadar, Agona, Anatum, Enteritidis, Infantis, Mbandaka, and I 4,[5], 12:i:-.

Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps six to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria. Illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment. Children younger than 5 years, adults 65 and older and people with weakened immune systems may develop more severe illness.

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