Friday, April 6, 2012

Don't Kiss That Chick!

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warns that while baby chicks are cute, they can also be a source of Salmonella infection, especially for children. Since 1990, more than 35 outbreaks of Salmonella have been associated with live poultry. "It is important to know that infections from live poultry can occur at any time of the year, not just during the spring" said Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh, a veterinary epidemiologist at CDC. 

A chick or duckling may look perfectly normal and clean still carry Salmonella germs in their droppings and on their bodies (feathers, feet, and beaks) and make people sick with diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and/or abdominal cramps. Sometimes, people can become so sick from a Salmonella infection that they have to go to the hospital. Young children, elderly persons, and those with weakened immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness. When this occurs, Salmonella may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.

Bottom Line

What should you do?

  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live baby poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available. Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.
  • Don’t let children younger than 5 years of age handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry. Don't give live baby poultry as gifts to young children.
  • Don't snuggle or kiss the birds, or let them touch your mouth.
  • Keep live poultry outside and away from human foodDon’t eat or drink in an area where the birds live or roam.
  • Don’t clean any poultry equipment, such as cages, inside the house.

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