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Multistate salmonella outbreak linked to backyard poultry puts 17 in hospital

Nearly 100 people in 28 states have gotten sick, including several young children.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is investigating a multistate outbreak of salmonella infections linked to backyard poultry, such as chicks and ducklings. Nearly one-third of those sickened were children under five years old.

The CDC says there has been 97 cases in 28 states. Seventeen people have been hospitalized. There have been no deaths.

In interviews with 44 off the people who got sick, 38 reported contact with chicks and ducklings, the CDC said. They reported getting the animals from agricultural stores, hatcheries and websites.

The CDC reminds owners of backyard flocks that the birds can carry salmonella while showing no signs of illness.

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Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching poultry, their eggs or anything in the area where they live and roam. Use hand sanitizer if no soap an water is available. Also, don't touch your face or mouth after touching the poultry unless you have washed your hands first.

Children may be tempted to kiss or snuggle little chicks and other small birds. The CDC says kids under the age of 5 shouldn't even touch them. Children should always be supervised around the birds and when they wash their hands afterward.

Other tips from the CDC:

  • Don’t let backyard poultry inside the house, especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored.
  • Set aside a pair of shoes to wear while taking care of poultry and keep those shoes outside of the house.
  • Don’t eat or drink where poultry live or roam.
  • 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 though a cracked shell.
  • Eggs with dirt and debris can be cleaned carefully with fine sandpaper, a brush, or a cloth.
  • Don’t wash warm, fresh eggs because colder water can pull germs into the egg.
  • Refrigerate eggs after collection to maintain freshness and slow germ growth.
  • Cook eggs until both the yolk and white are firm. Egg dishes should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C) or hotter. Raw and undercooked eggs may contain Salmonella bacteria that can make you sick.

The CDC says most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps six hours to six days after being exposed to the bacteria. The illness usually lasts 4-7 days.

While most people need no treatment, some may suffer severe illness and need hospitalization. Children under 5 and adults 65 and older are more likely to have severe illness, as are people with weakened immune systems.

Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto