CDC: Backyard chicken flocks linked to Salmonella outbreaks

Published: Jun. 9, 2017 at 11:21 AM CDT
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Backyard chicken flocks have become quite popular and with that, a health warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Since May 25, there have been 372 cases of

in 47 states, including three in South Dakota and six in Wyoming.

According to the CDC, the outbreaks are caused by several kinds of Salmonella bacteria passed on to people when they are in contact with live poultry, such as chicks and ducklings that come from several hatcheries. People reported purchasing live baby poultry from several sources, including feed supply stores, websites, hatcheries, and from relatives.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from Jan. 4, 2017 to May 13, 2017.

Thirty-six percent of ill people are children younger than five. The bacteria caused 71 people to be hospitalized but no deaths have been reported.

Outbreaks linked to contact with live poultry have increased in recent years as more people keep backyard flocks. In 2016, a record number of illnesses (895 with three deaths) were linked to contact with backyard poultry.

Advice to backyard flock owners 

Follow these CDC steps for protecting yourself and others while enjoying your backyard flock:

  • Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Also wash your hands after handling clothes and shoes that have touched live poultry. Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer until you are able to wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Do not let live poultry inside the house, in bathrooms, or especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens or outdoor patios.
    • Do not eat or drink in the area where the birds live or roam.
  • Children younger than 5 years, adults older than 65, and people with weakened immune systems should not handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry. People in these groups are more likely to have a severe illness from Salmonella infection.
  • Do not snuggle or kiss the birds, touch your mouth, or eat or drink around live poultry.
  • Stay outdoors when cleaning any equipment or materials used to raise or care for live poultry, such as cages, feed, or water containers.
  • If you collect eggs from your hens, follow safe handling tips:
    • Always wash your hands with soap and water after handling eggs, chickens, or anything in their environment.
    • Collect eggs often. Eggs that spend a significant amount of time in the nest can become dirty or break. Cracked eggs should be thrown away.
    • Refrigerate eggs after collection.
    • Eggs with dirt and debris can be cleaned with fine sandpaper, a brush or cloth. Don’t wash eggs, because colder water can pull bacteria into the egg.
    • Cook eggs thoroughly. Raw and undercooked eggs may contain Salmonella bacteria that can make you sick.
  • Read CDC’s recommendations for taking care of your backyard flock, which apply to all live poultry, regardless of the age of the birds or where they were purchased.


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