Salmonella outbreak highlights precautions
In light of an ongoing salmonella outbreak that has sickened at least 316 people in 37 states, the Texas Department of State Health Services, in an Aug. 26 press release, reminds people about the importance of basic hygiene practices around live poultry. At least 32 people in Texas have gotten sick after handling live poultry as part of the largest-ever salmonella outbreak linked to live birds in the United States.
“With the popularity of backyard chickens, more people are at risk of being exposed to salmonella. All poultry can carry the bacteria,” said Dr. Linda Gaul, Texas State Epidemiologist. “Fortunately, the risk of infection can be greatly reduced by taking some common sense steps like washing your hands with soap and water immediately after handling birds and not bringing live poultry into your home.”
•Don’t let children under 5 years old, elderly people, or people with weak immune systems handle chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry.
•Supervise children to make sure they wash their hands thoroughly after coming into contact with birds.
•Keep birds away from people’s faces, especially their mouths.
•Keep birds away from human food, and don’t eat or drink around live poultry.
•After caring for live poultry, change shoes before entering the home.
•Clean all items used to care for poultry outside the home rather than bringing them inside.
Salmonella bacteria can cause an infection that leads to diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. Most people recover without treatment after four to seven days, but young children, the elderly, and people with an impaired immune system are more likely to develop a severe illness that can lead to hospitalization or even death.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention traced the national outbreak to a hatchery in Portales, N.M. However, precautions should be taken with poultry from any source since they frequently shed salmonella germs in their droppings, contaminating their bodies and things they come into contact with. More information on the outbreak is available at http://1.usa.gov/16KJzqQ.