Sunday, June 12, 2011

CLUCK NEWS: No Cuddle or Snuggle Warning Follows Salmonella Outbreak

While most baby animals are cute, tiny, fluffy, peeping baby chicks are especially adorable and children are understandably drawn to them. But it is worth repeating that the CDC does not recommend children under 5 interacting with chickens. Now, unfortunately we have a stark reminder as a result of a Salmonella outbreak that has affected at least 39 people in 14 states. As of June 9th there were no reported cases in Florida. The outbreak has been traced to baby chicks and ducklings from a hatchery in Ohio. While no deaths have been reported so far, who wants debilitating diarrhea and the risk of complications? Keep reading to see a map of reported infections.

The people affected were not consuming chickens but handling baby chicks. Salmonellosis is the most common disease transmitted from pets to humans and is associated with a large number of pets, including aquatic turtles, tortoises, snakes, frogs, fish, baby chicks and ducklings. In addition dogs, cats, horses and farm animals can also transmit Salmonella.
According to the CDC: "Although foodborne infections have decreased by nearly one fourth in the past 15 years, more than 1 million people in this country become ill from Salmonella each year, and Salmonella accounts for about half of the hospitalizations and deaths among the nine foodborne illnesses CDC tracks through FoodNet." Salmonella contamination can occur both through contact with live animals or their feces as well as consumption of contaminated meat.Salmonella bacteria are all too commonly found in store-bought meat.

Similar outbreaks related to baby poultry occurred in 2006 and in one case 70% of the infections were in children.

CLUCK has advocated basic precautions such as hand-washing and keeping small children, the elderly and anyone with a supressed immune system from direct interaction with chickens. For general recommendations from the CDC regarding kids and a variety of pets, click here.

To review the CDC's investigation of the outbreak and recommended precautions, click here. The CDC report ends with the following admonition: Do not snuggle or kiss the birds, touch your mouth, or eat or drink around live poultry.

For previous CLUCK postings about health and Salmonella, click here and here.

CDC: Advice to Consumers

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer until you are able to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Clean any equipment or materials associated with raising or caring for live poultry outside the house, such as cages or feed or water containers.
  • Do not let children younger than 5 years of age, elderly persons, or people with weak immune systems handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry.
  • Do not let live poultry inside the house, in bathrooms, or especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens, or outdoor patios.
  • Do not snuggle or kiss the birds, touch your mouth, or eat or drink around live poultry.

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