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Almost 100 sick in Salmonella outbreak linked to backyard poultry flocks

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently investigating an outbreak of Salmonella Hadar reported in 28 states. There has been a total of 97 people infected with the outbreak strain. 

Seventeen people — representing more than a third of those with information available — have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported, according to the CDC’s outbreak notice.

Thirty percent of the people infected with the strain are children younger than 5 years of age.

Epidemiologic evidence shows that contact with backyard poultry, such as chicks and ducklings, is the likely source of this outbreak. In interviews with patients, 86 percent reported contact with chicks and ducklings. The infected people reported obtaining chicks and ducklings from several sources, including agricultural stores, websites and hatcheries.

Numbers at a glance:

  • Reported Cases: 97
  • States: 28
  • Hospitalizations: 17
  • Deaths: 0

Backyard poultry can carry Salmonella germs that can make people sick, even when the birds look healthy and clean. Backyard flock owners should always follow steps to stay healthy around their poultry.

2019 Outbreak 

This outbreak is similar to a deadly cluster of outbreaks from this past year. The CDC concluded an investigation in October, 2019. The 13 multistate outbreaks of Salmonella infections were linked to contact with backyard poultry. These investigations found that the outbreaks in 2019 represent the largest recorded number of people in a single year to become sick with Salmonella after contact with backyard poultry.

There were 1,134 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella. They were from 49 states and the District of Columbia. Of the 740 people with information available, 219, or 30 percent, were hospitalized. Two deaths were reported, one from Texas and one from Ohio. Of the 988 ill people with information available, 212, or 21 percent, were children younger than 5 years old. In interviews, 392, or 63 percent, of 619 ill people reported contact with chicks or ducklings.

2019 numbers at a glance:

  • Reported Cases: 1134
  • States: 49
  • Hospitalizations: 219
  • Deaths: 2

CDC safety advice for backyard flock owners
People can get sick with Salmonella infections from touching backyard poultry, their feed, and the places where they live and roam. Backyard poultry can carry Salmonella germs but look healthy and clean and show no signs of illness.

  • Wash your hands.
    • Always wash your hands with soap and water right after touching backyard poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam.
      • Adults should supervise handwashing by young children.
      • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not readily available. Consider storing hand sanitizer at your coop.
  • Poultry belongs outside.
    • Don’t let backyard poultry inside the house, especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored.
    • Set aside a pair of shoes to wear while taking care of poultry and keep those shoes outside of the house.
    • Stay outdoors when cleaning any equipment or materials used to raise or care for poultry, such as cages, or feed or water containers.
  • Handle birds safely.
    • Do not let children younger than 5 years of age handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry without supervision. Children younger than 5 years of age are more likely to get sick from exposure to germs like Salmonella. Don’t eat or drink where poultry lives or roam.
    • Don’t kiss backyard poultry or snuggle them and then touch your face or mouth.

About Salmonella infections
Food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria does not usually look, smell, or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection. Infants, children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.

Anyone who has eaten any of the recalled eggs and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise, healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients require hospitalization.

Older adults, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop a severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions.

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