Salmonella: don't kiss your chicken

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Buff Orphington chicken
Photo by Elias Gayles in Creative Commons
Nationally, 2017 had more Salmonella cases linked to backyard poultry than ever recorded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Federal health officials tracked 1,120 cases involving 48 states and D.C.

In Washington, 23 cases associated with this outbreak were reported to state health officials.

This is more than double the number of cases of Salmonella associated with backyard poultry outbreaks in the previous two years combined.

Salmonella can cause serious illness. You can get the infection from a variety of sources, including eating contaminated food or drinking water, touching infected animals and not washing your hands. While anyone can get a Salmonella infection, children are especially at risk of illness because they are less likely to wash their hands and have more frequent hand-to-mouth contact than adults.

Owning backyard poultry can be a great experience. Anyone looking to restock or start their backyard flocks this spring should keep the following tips in mind:
  • Always wash hands with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Even healthy-looking chickens, ducks, geese, and turkeys can carry the Salmonella bacteria.
  • Don’t snuggle or kiss live poultry or allow them in family living spaces.
  • Adults should supervise young children when handling live poultry.

For more information on safe live poultry handling and the health risks associated with Salmonella, visit the DOH website.

--Washington State Department of Health


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