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Multistate Outbreaks of Human Salmonella Infections Linked to Live Poultry in Backyard Flocks, 2017

Posted June 1, 2017 2:45PM ET

Outbreak Advisory

8
Outbreaks
372
Cases
47
States
71
Hospitalizations
  • CDC, many state departments of health and agriculture, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service are investigating eight multistate outbreaks of human Salmonella infections linked to contact with live poultry in backyard flocks.
    • These outbreaks are caused by several kinds of Salmonella bacteria: Salmonella Braenderup, Salmonella Enteritidis, Salmonella Hadar, Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i-, Salmonella Indiana, Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Mbandaka, and Salmonella Typhimurium.
  • As of May 25, 2017, 372 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella have been reported from 47 states.
    • Illnesses started on dates ranging from January 4, 2017 to May 13, 2017.
    • 71 ill people have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.
    • 36% of ill people are children younger than 5 years.
  • Epidemiologic, traceback, and laboratory findings link the eight outbreaks to contact with live poultry, such as chicks and ducklings, which come from several hatcheries.
    • In interviews, 190 (83%) of 228 ill people reported contact with live poultry in the week before illness started.
    • People reported purchasing live baby poultry from several sources, including feed supply stores, websites, hatcheries, and from relatives.
  • Contact with live poultry and the areas where they live and roam can make people sick with Salmonella infections. Chicks, ducklings, and other live poultry that look healthy and clean can still carry Salmonella bacteria.
  • Outbreaks linked to contact with live poultry have increased in recent years as more people keep backyard flocks. In 2016, a record number of illnesses were linked to contact with backyard poultry.

Advice to Backyard Flock Owners

Follow these steps for protecting yourself and others while enjoying your backyard flock:

  • Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Also wash your hands after handling clothes and shoes that have touched live poultry. Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer until you are able to wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Do not let live poultry inside the house, in bathrooms, or especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens or outdoor patios.
    • Do not eat or drink in the area where the birds live or roam.
  • Children younger than 5 years, adults older than 65, and people with weakened immune systems should not handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry. People in these groups are more likely to have a severe illness from Salmonella infection.
  • Do not snuggle or kiss the birds, touch your mouth, or eat or drink around live poultry.
  • Stay outdoors when cleaning any equipment or materials used to raise or care for live poultry, such as cages, feed, or water containers.
  • If you collect eggs from your hens, follow safe handling tips:
    • Always wash your hands with soap and water after handling eggs, chickens, or anything in their environment.
    • Collect eggs often. Eggs that spend a significant amount of time in the nest can become dirty or break. Cracked eggs should be thrown away.
    • Refrigerate eggs after collection.
    • Eggs with dirt and debris can be cleaned with fine sandpaper, a brush or cloth. Don’t wash eggs, because colder water can pull bacteria into the egg.
    • Cook eggs thoroughly. Raw and undercooked eggs may contain Salmonella bacteria that can make you sick.
  • Read CDC’s recommendations for taking care of your backyard flock, which apply to all live poultry, regardless of the age of the birds or where they were purchased.

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 – 1 page] describing the risk of human 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 USDA-NPIP U.S. Salmonella Monitored Program [PDF – 17 pages], in which voluntary participation by mail-order hatcheries will 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 human Salmonella infections from contact with live poultry:

  • Source the birds they sell from suppliers that have adopted USDA’s best management practices to mitigate Salmonella contamination [PDF – 25 pages].
  • Source the birds they sell from hatcheries which voluntarily participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Poultry Improvement Plan (USDA-NPIP) U.S. Salmonella Monitored Program [PDF – 17 pages].
  • 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 – 1 page] describing the risk of human 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 can not easily touch birds.
  • Clean the areas where birds are displayed between shipments of new birds.
  • More information on displaying animals in public settings can be found in the 2013 Compendium of Measures to Prevent Diseases Associated with Animals in Public Settings.

Previous Outbreaks Linked to Live Poultry

Outbreak Cases States Deaths Hospitalizations
2016: Live PoultrySalmonella Enteritidis, Salmonella Muenster, Salmonella Hadar, Salmonella Indiana, Salmonella Mbandaka, Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Braenderup, Salmonella Infantis 895 48 3 209
2015: Live Poultry – Salmonella Enteritidis, Salmonella Hadar, Salmonella Indiana,and Salmonella Muenchen 252 43 0 63
2014: Live PoultrySalmonella Infantis and Salmonella Newport 363 43 0 120
2013: Live PoultrySalmonella Typhimurium 356 39 0 62
2013: Live PoultrySalmonella Infantis, Salmonella Lille, Salmonella Newport, and Salmonella Mbandaka 158 30 0 29
2012: Live PoultrySalmonella Hadar 46 11 0 13
2012: Live PoultrySalmonella Montevideo 93 23 1 21
2012: Live PoultrySalmonella Infantis, Salmonella Newport, and Salmonella Lille 195 27 2 34

Tips to Stay Healthy with a Backyard Flock

  • Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry.
  • Do not let children younger than 5 years handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry without adult supervision.

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

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