Salmonella outbreaks that caused one death and sickened over 200 people across at least 38 states have been linked to backyard poultry, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a news release Friday.
Illnesses started appearing in February 2022 and spiked on May 5, but were still being recorded as of May 22. The CDC has recorded 219 cases so far, with Texas, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa reporting the most illnesses, all between 10 and 15, KTLA sister station KSNT reported.
According to the CDC, sick people have ranged in age from 1 to 89 years old, but one in four are younger than 5 years old. The single death was recorded in Tennessee.
The CDC estimates the number is likely much higher because many people recover without seeking medical care. Of the 87 people the CDC interviewed, 70% said they had contact with backyard poultry.
The CDC is offering the following advice to people with backyard flocks:
- Wash your hands
- Always wash your hands with soap and water immediately after touching backyard poultry, their eggs, or anything in the area where they live and roam.
- Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available. Consider having hand sanitizer at your coop.
- Be safe around backyard flocks
- Don’t kiss or snuggle backyard poultry, and don’t eat or drink around them. This can spread salmonella germs to your mouth and make you sick.
- Keep your backyard flock and supplies you use to care for them (like feed containers and shoes you wear in the coop) outside of the house. You should also clean the supplies outside the house.
- Supervise kids around flocks
- Always supervise children around backyard poultry and make sure they wash their hands properly afterward.
- Don’t let children younger than 5 years touch chicks, ducklings, or other backyard poultry. Young children are more likely to get sick from germs like salmonella.
- Handle eggs safely
- Collect eggs often. Eggs that sit in the nest can become dirty or break.
- Throw away cracked eggs. Germs on the shell can more easily enter the egg through a cracked shell.
- Rub off dirt on eggs with fine sandpaper, a brush, or a cloth. Don’t wash eggs because colder water can pull germs into the egg.
- Refrigerate eggs to keep them fresh and slow the growth of germs.
- Cook eggs until both the yolk and white are firm, and cook egg dishes to an internal temperature of 160°F to kill all germs.
Individuals with a fever higher than 102 degrees, those who have had diarrhea for more than three days, bloody diarrhea, or vomiting should contact a doctor.
The CDC says such outbreaks aren’t uncommon, and often coincide with the spring, when people buy baby poultry. In 2021, the CDC recorded 1,135 cases of salmonella caused by contact with backyard poultry.
People with questions about local outbreaks are encouraged to contact their state’s health department.