The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released an investigation notice informing consumers of a salmonella outbreak that has reached 21 states and 52 people so far. According to the CDC, the investigation is still underway, but the outbreak is linked to contact with live poultry in backyard flocks. No deaths have been reported, but five people have been hospitalized for Salmonella poisoning.
The people who got sick reported getting ducklings and chicks from places such as websites, hatcheries and agricultural stores. Salmonella can be contracted from touching live poultry or their environment. Birds who appear healthy and clean can still carry the virus.
States that have been affected so far include Ohio, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Texas, Arizona, Idaho, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.
The CDC offers advice to the public to help avoid contracting Salmonella:
• Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in their environment.
• Do not let live poultry inside the house, including in the bathrooms, and be especially careful to keep them out of areas where food is prepared.
• If you have birds, set aside a pair of shoes to wear while taking care of them, and keep these shoes outside of your home.
• Children younger than 5 years old, adults over the age of 65 and anyone else with a weakened immune system should not handle or touch chicks, ducklings or other poultry.
• Do not eat or drink where poultry live or roam.
• Do not kiss backyard poultry or hold them anywhere near your face or mouth.
• Stay outdoors when cleaning any equipment or materials used to raise or care for poultry.
Salmonella poisoning usually lasts four to seven days and can cause diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps. Symptoms usually appear 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food.