Outbreaks of Salmonella Infections Linked to Backyard Poultry

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June 13, 2019 at 1:30 PM ET

CDC and public health officials in several states are investigating multiple multistate outbreaks of Salmonella infections linked to contact with backyard poultry.

Latest Outbreak Information
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At A Glance
  • Reported Cases: 279
  • States: 41
  • Hospitalizations: 40
  • Deaths: 0

Infographic with baby chickens on it reading Always wash your hands after handling live poultry.

  • Since the last update on May 16, 2019, illnesses in an additional 227 people and 20 states have been added to this investigation. Four Salmonella serotypes have also been added.
  • A total of 279 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella have been reported from 41 states.
    • 40 (26%) people have been hospitalized and no deaths have been reported.
    • 70 (30%) people are children younger than 5 years.
  • Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicate that contact with backyard poultry, such as chicks and ducklings, from multiple hatcheries is the likely source of these outbreaks.
    • In interviews, 118 (77%) of 153 ill people reported contact with chicks or ducklings.
    • People reported obtaining chicks and ducklings from several sources, including agricultural stores, websites, and hatcheries.
  • One of the outbreak strains making people sick has been identified in samples collected from backyard poultry in Ohio.
Advice to Backyard Flock Owners
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  • People can get sick with Salmonella infections from touching backyard poultry or their environment. Backyard poultry can carry Salmonella bacteria but appear healthy and clean and show no signs of illness.
  • Follow these tips to stay healthy with your backyard flock:
    • Always wash your hands with soap and water right after touching backyard poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam.
      • Adults should supervise handwashing by young children.
      • Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available.
    • 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.
    • Children younger than 5, adults over 65, and people who have health problems or take medicines that lower the body’s ability to fight germs and sickness shouldn’t handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other poultry.
    • Don’t eat or drink where poultry live or roam.
    • Don’t kiss backyard poultry or snuggle them and then touch your face or mouth.
    • Stay outdoors when cleaning any equipment or materials used to raise or care for poultry, such as cages, or feed or water containers.
  • For a complete list of recommendations, visit the Healthy Pets, Healthy People website section on backyard poultry.

Advice to Stores that Sell or Display Poultry

  • Source birds sold from suppliers that have adopted the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) best management practices to mitigate Salmonella contamination pdf icon[PDF – 1.40 MB]external icon, and those which voluntarily participate in the USDA’s National Poultry Improvement Plan (USDA-NPIP) U.S. Salmonella Monitored Program pdf icon[PDF – 279 KB]external icon.
  • Provide health information to owners and potential buyers of poultry before purchase (see sample flyer below). This should include information about the risk of getting a Salmonella infection from contact with poultry.
    • A flyer pdf icon[PDF – 631 KB] describing the risk of Salmonella infections from contact with poultry and prevention recommendations is available.
  • Place health information in clear view where poultry are displayed.
  • Provide handwashing 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 poultry.
  • Clean and sanitize the areas where poultry are displayed between shipments of new poultry. 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 please read this article developed for retail storesexternal icon.

Advice to Mail-Order Hatcheries

Symptoms of Salmonella Infection
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  • Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria.
  • The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment.
  • In some people, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other places in the body.
  • In rare cases, Salmonella infection can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.
  • People more likely to get a serious illness are children younger than 5 years, adults older than 65 years, and people who have health problems or take medicines that lower the body’s ability to fight germs and sickness.
  • For more information, see the CDCSalmonella website.
Investigation Details

June 13, 2019

CDC and public health officials in several states are investigating multiple multistate outbreaks of Salmonella infections with serotypes Agona, Anatum, Braenderup, Infantis, Montevideo, and Newport linked to contact with backyard poultry.

Public health investigators are using the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that may be part of these outbreaks. PulseNet is the national subtyping network of public health laboratories coordinated by CDC. DNA fingerprinting is performed on Salmonella bacteria isolated from ill people by using techniques called pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and whole genome sequencing (WGS). CDC PulseNet manages a national database of these DNA fingerprints to identify possible outbreaks. WGS gives a more detailed DNA fingerprint than PFGE. WGS performed on Salmonella from ill people in this outbreak showed that they are closely related genetically. This means that the ill people are more likely to share a common source of infection.

As of June 7, 2019, a total of 279 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella have been reported from 41 states. A list of the states and the number of cases in each is on the map of reported cases page.

Illnesses started on dates from January 1, 2019, to May 24, 2019. Ill people range in age from less than one year to 92 years, with a median age of 25 years. Fifty-seven percent are female. Of 152 people with information available, 40 (26%) have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

WGS analysis of 24 isolates from ill people predicted antibiotic resistance to amoxicillin-clavulanic acid, ampicillin, cefoxitin, ceftriaxone, fosfomycin, gentamicin, kanamycin, streptomycin, sulfisoxazole, tetracycline, or trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. An additional 35 isolates from ill people did not show evidence of antibiotic resistance. Testing of five outbreak isolates using standard antibiotic susceptibility testing by CDC’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) laboratory confirmed these results (fosfomycin and kanamycin were not tested by this method). This resistance may affect the choice of antibiotic used to treat some people.

One of the outbreak strains making people sick was identified in samples collected from backyard poultry in Ohio.  Additional testing in several states is being conducted.

In interviews, ill people answered questions about animal contact in the week before they became ill. Of 153 people interviewed, 118 (77%) reported contact with backyard poultry before becoming ill. Ill people reported buying poultry from various sources, including agricultural stores, websites, and hatcheries.

Backyard poultry from multiple hatcheries are the likely source of these outbreaks. Regardless of where poultry are purchased, they can carry Salmonella germs that can make people sick. Backyard poultry owners should always follow steps to stay healthy around their poultry.

This investigation is ongoing, and CDC will provide updates when more information becomes available.

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