And health experts warn that some adorable animals are responsible for the outbreak, so you should stay far from them.
A major disease outbreak has authorities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warning that some typically adorable animals may be carrying a deadly ailment that can infect you if you get too close. The CDC released data that suggests that people are getting too close to chickens, ducks, and geese, and it’s leading to the spread of Salmonella infections and outbreaks.
Authorities say 2016 was a record year for infections of the disease, which cause vomiting diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever, with a total of 895 people getting sick from Salmonella by interacting with these birds. And 2017 is looking to be pretty bad too, as so far at least 372 people have gotten sick from handling ducks, chickens, and geese, between Jan. 4 and May 3, with a total of eight multi-state outbreaks reported.
Fortunately, there haven’t been any deaths, but over 70 people have been hospitalized, and the actual number may be as many as 20 to 30 times higher as most who get the disease don’t tell the authorities.
The statement from the CDC follows below.
CDC, many state departments of health and agriculture, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service are investigating eight multistate outbreaks of human Salmonella infections linked to contact with live poultry in backyard flocks.
These outbreaks are caused by several kinds of Salmonella bacteria: Salmonella Braenderup, Salmonella Enteritidis, Salmonella Hadar, Salmonella I 4,,12:i-, Salmonella Indiana, Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Mbandaka, and Salmonella Typhimurium.
As of May 25, 2017, 372 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella have been reported from 47 states.
Illnesses started on dates ranging from January 4, 2017 to May 13, 2017.
71 ill people have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.
36% of ill people are children younger than 5 years.
Epidemiologic, traceback, and laboratory findings link the eight outbreaks to contact with live poultry, such as chicks and ducklings, which come from several hatcheries.
In interviews, 190 (83%) of 228 ill people reported contact with live poultry in the week before illness started.
People reported purchasing live baby poultry from several sources, including feed supply stores, websites, hatcheries, and from relatives.
Contact with live poultry and the areas where they live and roam can make people sick with Salmonella infections. Chicks, ducklings, and other live poultry that look healthy and clean can still carry Salmonella bacteria.
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 were linked to contact with backyard poultry.
Live poultry, such as chickens, ducks, geese, and turkeys, often carry germs such as Salmonella. After you touch a bird, or anything in the area where birds live and roam, wash your hands so you don’t get sick!
Owning backyard chickens and other poultry can be a great experience. However, children and other groups of people have a greater chance of illness from handling live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Even handling baby birds displayed at stores can cause a Salmonella infection. Keep reading to learn about the steps you can take to stay healthy around live poultry.
How do people get Salmonella infections from live poultry?
Live poultry might have Salmonella germs in their droppings and on their bodies (feathers, feet, and beaks), even when they appear healthy and clean. The germs can get on cages, coops, feed and water dishes, hay, plants, and soil in the area where the birds live and roam. Germs also can get on the hands, shoes, and clothes of people who handle or care for the birds.
Live poultry also can carry avian influenza (flu) viruses. Avian flu very rarely makes people sick. Learn more about avian flu and steps you can take to protect yourself.
Zoonotic Diseases (Diseases from Animals): Information about outbreaks from animals, prevention messages, and helpful resources.
Healthy Pets Healthy People: Information on the health benefits of pets and disease risks.
People become infected with Salmonella germs when they put their hands or equipment that has been in contact with live poultry in or around their mouth. Young children are more likely to get sick because their immune systems are still developing and they are more likely to put their fingers or pacifiers and other items into their mouths. Some people who have contact with items, like coops or water dishes, in the area where poultry live can get sick without actually touching one of the birds. Germs on your hands can spread easily to other people or surfaces, which is why it’s important to wash hands immediately with soap and water after touching poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam.
How do I reduce the chance of Salmonella infection?
Always wash your hands with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam.
Adults should supervise handwashing by young children.
Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available.
Don’t let live poultry inside the house, especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored.
Don’t let children younger than 5 years, adults older than 65, or people with weakened immune systems from conditions such as cancer treatment, HIV/AIDS or organ transplants, handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry.
If you collect eggs from the hens, thoroughly cook the eggs.
Don’t eat or drink in the area where the birds live or roam.
Avoid kissing your birds or snuggling them, then touching your mouth.
Stay outdoors when cleaning any equipment or materials used to raise or care for live poultry, such as cages or feed or water containers.
Buy birds from hatcheries that participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Poultry Improvement Plan (USDA-NPIP) U.S. voluntary Salmonella Monitoring Program[279 KB]. This program is intended to reduce the incidence of Salmonella in baby poultry in the hatchery, which helps prevent the spread of illness among poultry and people.