Bad news for private poultry farmers: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 790 cases of salmonella from 48 states since July 13, and that the outbreak started with people who have come into contact with live poultry.
Specifically, the Salmonella epidemic can be traced from chicks and ducklings that came from multiple hatcheries, websites, and feed supply stores. Although this outbreak has permeated the continental U.S., the majority of reported cases have popped up in California, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
No Salmonella-related deaths have been reported so far, but at least 174 people who have contracted the disease were hospitalized nationwide. Most importantly, a whopping 74% of those affected by the outbreak have reported coming into contact with live poultry before the illness began.
The symptoms of Salmonella include fever, dehydration, diarrhea, and abdominal pain that lasts from four days to a week, and although it is far too easy to contract Salmonella from a backyard chicken coop, it’s just as simple to completely sidestep this nasty bacteria. Just follow these simple precautionary tips from the CDC:
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.
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.
In summary, don’t hug fuzzy chicks or adorable ducklings without wearing a hazmat suit, or else you might just get the runs for a week.