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Multistate Outbreaks of Salmonella Infections Linked to Contact with Live Poultry in Backyard Flocks, 2018

Posted July 23, 2018 11:00 AM ET

Outbreak Advisory





  • Since the last update on June 8, 2018, 88 more ill people have been reported. The most recent illness began on June 21, 2018.
  • CDC and multiple states are investigating several multistate outbreaks of Salmonella infections linked to contact with live poultry in backyard flocks.
    • People can get sick with Salmonella infections from touching live poultry or their environment. These birds can be carrying Salmonella bacteria but appear healthy and clean and show no signs of illness.
    • Several different types of Salmonella bacteria have made people sick in this outbreak: Salmonella Seftenberg, Salmonella Montevideo, Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Enteritidis, Salmonella Indiana, and Salmonella Litchfield.
  • As of July 13, 2018, 212 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella have been reported from 44 states.
    • Illnesses started from February 15, 2018 to June 21, 2018.
    • 34 ill people have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.
    • 26% of ill people are children younger than 5 years.
  • Epidemiologic, traceback, and laboratory findings link these outbreaks to contact with live poultry, such as chicks and ducklings, which come from multiple hatcheries.
    • In interviews, 100 (72%) of 138 ill people with information available reported contact with chicks or ducklings in the week before their illness started.
    • People reported obtaining chicks and ducklings from several sources, including feed supply stores, websites, hatcheries, and from relatives.
  • WGS analysis to identify antibiotic resistance was performed for 118 isolates from ill people in this outbreak. Twenty-two isolates from ill people contained genes expected to cause resistance or decreased susceptibility to all or some of the following antibiotics: ampicillin, streptomycin, sulfamethoxazole, tetracycline, gentamicin, ceftriaxone, amoxicillin-clavulanic acid, cefoxitin, ciprofloxacin, and fosfomycin. Ninety-six isolates did not identify predicted resistance. Testing of 5 outbreak isolates using standard antibiotic susceptibility testing by CDC’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) laboratory confirmed these results. Some infections may be difficult to treat with commonly recommended antibiotics, and may require another kind of antibiotic.
  • This investigation is ongoing, and CDC will provide updates when more information is available.

Advice to Mail-Order Hatcheries

Mail-order hatcheries should provide health-related information to owners and potential purchasers before they buy any birds (see example below). This should include information about preventing Salmonella infections from contact with live poultry.

  • A flier [PDF – 632 KB] describing the risk of Salmonella infections from contact with live poultry and prevention recommendations is available.

Mail-order hatcheries should put interventions in place to help prevent contamination and infection of poultry with Salmonella:

Mail-order hatcheries should participate in the voluntary USDA-NPIP U.S. Salmonella Monitored Program [PDF – 279 KB], in which mail-order hatcheries certify their flocks are monitored for Salmonella bacteria that may cause illness in humans. The intent of this program is to reduce the incidence of Salmonella in day-old poultry in the hatchery and give the poultry industry a better opportunity to reduce the incidence of Salmonella in their products.

Advice to Feed Stores that Sell or Display Live Poultry

Agricultural feed stores should take steps to prevent Salmonella infections from contact with live poultry:

  • Source the birds they sell from suppliers that have adopted the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) best management practices to mitigate Salmonella contamination [PDF – 1.4 MB] and which voluntarily participate in the USDA’s National Poultry Improvement Plan (USDA-NPIP) U.S. Salmonella Monitored Program [PDF – 279 KB].
  • Provide health information to owners and potential purchasers of these birds before purchase (see sample flier below). This should include information about the risk of acquiring a Salmonella infection from contact with live poultry.
    • A flier [PDF – 632 KB] describing the risk of Salmonella infections from contact with live poultry and prevention recommendations is available.
  • Place health information in clear view where birds are displayed.
  • Provide hand washing stations or hand sanitizer next to poultry display areas and tell customers to wash hands right after leaving these areas.
  • Display poultry out of reach of customers, especially chil­dren, so customers cannot easily touch birds.
  • Clean and sanitize the areas where birds are displayed between shipments of new birds. Be sure to remove debris first so that the disinfectant is applied to a surface that is generally clean. Apply the disinfectant on the surface for the proper contact time listed on the disinfectant label.
  • More information on displaying animals in public settings can be found in the 2017 Compendium of Measures to Prevent Diseases Associated with Animals in Public Settings.

Illustration showing several chickens with text reading Always wash your hands after handling live poultry

Tips to Stay Healthy With a Backyard Flock

  • Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in their environment.
  • Don’t let children younger than 5 years handle or touch live poultry without adult supervision.
  • Set aside a pair of shoes to wear while taking care of your birds and keep the shoes outside of your home.

Read more about ways to stay healthy with backyard flocks. Read live poultry Q&A.

Illustration showing a chicken with text reading Don't play chicken with your health. Wash your hands after handling backyard poultry.

Seventy outbreaks of Salmonella infections have been linked to contact with backyard flocks since 2000 [PDF – 887 KB].