CDC Investigation Notice: CDC investigating Salmonella outbreak linked to wild songbirds

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: Friday, April 1, 2021
Contact: Media Relations
(404) 639-3286

A CDC Investigation Notice regarding a multistate outbreak of Salmonella infections has been posted:

Key Points:

  • CDC is investigating an outbreak of 19 Salmonella infections in 8 states (CA, KY, MS, NH, OK, OR, TN, WA).
  • Eight people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
  • Interviews with sick people and laboratory testing from sick or dead birds show that contact with wild songbirds and bird feeders is likely making people sick in this outbreak.
  • This outbreak is making both birds and humans sick. Salmonella can spread between species of birds, to pets, and to people.
  • CDC will provide more information as it becomes available.
  • You can get sick from touching a wild bird or something in its environment, such as a bird feeder or bird bath, and then touching your mouth or face with unwashed hands.
  • Wild birds can carry Salmonella germs and still appear healthy and clean.

What You Should Do:

  • Always wash your hands right after touching a bird feeder, bird bath, or after handling a bird – even if you wore gloves.
  • Clean and disinfect your bird feeder and bird bath weekly or when they are visibly dirty. Feeders should be cleaned outside your house when possible. If you clean it indoors, use a laundry sink or bathtub, and thoroughly clean and disinfect the area right after.
  • Keep pets away from bird feeders and bird baths and the areas under them.
  • Do not touch or hand-feed wild birds with your bare hands.
  • If you find a sick or dead bird, call your state wildlife agencyexternal icon or wildlife rehabilitatorexternal icon.
  • If you find a sick or dead bird in your yard, remove any bird feeders and baths for two weeks and clean them outdoors.

About Salmonella:

  • Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps 6 hours to 6 days after being exposed to the bacteria.
  • The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment.
  • In some people, the illness may be so severe that the patient is hospitalized. Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other parts of the body.
  • Children younger than 5, adults 65 and older, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have severe illness.

If you have questions about cases in a particular state, please call that state’s health department.


CDC works 24/7 protecting America’s health, safety and security. Whether disease start at home or abroad, are curable or preventable, chronic or acute, or from human activity or deliberate attack, CDC responds to America’s most pressing health threats. CDC is headquartered in Atlanta and has experts located throughout the United States and the world.

Page last reviewed: April 1, 2021