Stop kissing chicks!

by Erica Shaffer
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The CDC reports 218 Salmonella infections related to handling live poultry.
Case-patients in the outbreak reported bringing live poultry into their homes, while others reported kissing or cuddling with baby birds.

ATLANTA – Public health and agriculture officials are investigating multi-state outbreaks of Salmonella linked to contact with live poultry.

The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 218 individuals in 41 states were infected with outbreak strains of Salmonella as of July 29, while 50 of those case-patients were hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

During its investigation, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of US Department of Agriculture found 10 outbreak strains of Salmonella Enteritidis, Salmonella Hadar, Salmonella Indiana and Salmonella Muenchen (or Muenster). So far, all the strains were treatable with antibiotics.

Interviews with case-patients revealed that 84 percent of the individuals who became ill reported contact with live poultry — ducks, ducklings, chickens, chicks — before illness onset. Symptoms can include diarrhea, fever and/or abdominal cramps.

“Ninety-four ill people who had purchase records available reported purchasing live poultry from 32 different suppliers including feed supply stores, Co-Ops, ‘flea markets,’ friends, and hatcheries in multiple states,” CDC said in its report. “Ill people reported purchasing live poultry for backyard flocks to produce eggs or meat, or to keep as pets.

“Many ill people in these outbreaks reported bringing the live baby poultry into their homes, and others reported kissing or cuddling with the live poultry,” the agency added. “These behaviors increase a person’s risk of a Salmonella infection.”

The CDC is urging consumers to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately after handling raw poultry. Also, consumers should not let poultry live in their homes. Poultry suppliers are urged to provide health-related information to owners and potential buyers at the point of purchase. Information should include the risks of Salmonella infection from handling live birds.

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