Health officials across the country are continuing to sound the alarm about a Salmonella outbreak that is now being blamed not on tainted chicken meat or commercial henhouses but on ordinary, family-kept backyard poultry flocks.
So far, 8 distinct Salmonella outbreaks have been documented, covering more than 370 confirmed infections in at least 47 U.S. states.
Officials say multiple types of Salmonella are to blame:
- Salmonella Braenderup
- Salmonella Enteritidis
- Salmonella Hadar
- Salmonella I 4,,12:i-
- Salmonella Indiana
- Salmonella Infantis
- Salmonella Mbandaka
- Salmonella Typhimurium
There have been no deaths reported so far but doctors say that at least 71 people have become ill enough to require a hospital stay. And around 36% of all people sickened by the bacteria are infants, toddlers or preschoolers.
Protecting Your Family From Your Backyard Flock
Experts do have some advice for families who keep chickens, ducks and other poultry. The most basic, of course, is to simply wash your hands immediately after handling your birds or anything in your birds’ habitat or run. If soap and water are not available you can, says the Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, use hand sanitizer.
If you collect eggs from your birds do it often and throw out any eggs that you find cracked or broken. If your eggs are dirty, wipe them clean with a cloth then refrigerate them. Don’t wash your eggs, say health experts, because cold water can actually draw surface bacteria into the egg. But do wash your hands after collecting your eggs.
And, of course, it is important to cook eggs thoroughly before eating them to kill any bacteria that might exist in the raw eggs.
Advice For Children Who Raise Poultry
Young children are among the folks known to be especially vulnerable to Salmonella infections. Preschoolers and younger kids should not handle, care for or clean up after poultry at all. They should never kiss birds or handle them near their faces.