South Dakota is reporting an outbreak of salmonella associated with baby chicks. Three cases have been reported in the southeastern part of the state and one in the southwest. One case was a child younger than 4; the others were adults .
Salmonellosis is a bacterial infection and one of the most common causes of gastroenteritis. The bacteria are widely distributed in the food chain and environment and often contaminate raw meats, eggs, unpasteurized milk and cheese products. Poultry, swine, cattle, rodents, songbirds, and pets such as iguanas, tortoises, turtles, terrapins, chicks, dogs, and cats, as well as humans, can carry the bacteria.
Children are especially susceptible because they frequently put their fingers into their mouths and because their immune systems are still developing. Pregnant women, the elderly, people with HIV/AIDS and other immunocompromised individuals are also at higher risk.
Symptoms may include mild or severe diarrhea, fever and occasionally vomiting. Bloodstream infections can be quite serious, particularly in the very young or elderly.
Take the following precautions to prevent salmonella infection:
For more about the risk of salmonellosis from poultry see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/healthypets/easter_chicks.htm. Learn more about Salmonellosis at http://doh.sd.gov/DiseaseFacts/salmonellosis.aspx.