According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 212 people have already fallen ill with salmonella in over 40 states. What are some important steps to take to reduce the chances of getting infections from backyard chickens?
As of the latest update, 88 more people were reported to be infected with salmonella, bringing the total number of salmonella infections up to 212. The illnesses began in February of this year, with 34 of the ill requiring hospitalization. Fortunately, no deaths are linked to the multistate outbreak.
Investigations so far link the illnesses to contact with chicks and ducklings that came from multiple sources and hatcheries. In fact, 72 percent of the ill who were available for interviews reported having contact with chicks or ducklings in the week before they fell ill, the animals having come from either hatcheries, websites, feed supply stores, and even relatives.
CDC investigations are still ongoing, but 22 of the isolates from the ill people contained genes that are expected to have some form of resistance to common antibiotics such as ampicillin, ciprofloxacin, tetracycline, gentamicin, and amoxicillin-clavulanic acid. Because of this antibiotic resistance, some of the infections may require other kinds of antibiotics.
More and more people have been keeping chickens in their own backyards, but while it is a great experience for many, it also increases the risks of getting illnesses and infections from being in close contact with the chickens. In fact, CDC data reveals that there have been 70 salmonella outbreaks linked to backyard chickens since the year 2000, resulting in over 4,700 illnesses, almost 900 hospitalizations, and seven deaths.
Such infections may be gotten from chickens’ bodies and droppings, even when they look clean and healthy. These germs may then spread to the coops, hay, food and water containers, and even on the soil and plants in the area where they live and roam. Because of this, people who get in contact with infected items may still get infected even without getting in direct contact with the chickens.
Children are said to be more susceptible to such infections because their immune systems are still developing. In fact, 26 percent of the ill in the current outbreak are children below 5 years old.
Reducing Infection Chances
To reduce the chances of getting salmonella from backyard chickens, the CDC recommends thoroughly washing the hands right after handling chickens or anything from the area where they roam and live. It’s also important to remember not to eat or drink in the chickens’ area and to not kiss or snuggle them.
The chickens should not be allowed to roam or live inside the house, particularly in parts of the house where food and drinks are stored, prepared, or served. Children, the elderly, and other people with weakened immune systems should not be allowed to handle live poultry, and it is also wise to have separate footwear for taking care of the chickens to be kept outside of the house at all times.