A salmonella outbreak linked to backyard poultry has worsened, sickening more than 200 people throughout the United States, according to federal health officials.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a multistate salmonella outbreak update on July 20, indicating that illnesses linked to live poultry have been identified in at least 44 states, and the number of illnesses has nearly doubled since late June.
Initially, the CDC reported that at least 124 people had fallen ill to the outbreak last month. In this latest update, the agency indicates that 88 additional illnesses have been reported, raising the total to 212 people.
To date, there are no reported deaths. However, 34 people have been hospitalized. More than a quarter of the people who have become ill are children under the age of five. The most recent illness was reported June 21.
The live poultry salmonella outbreak is linked backyard flocks. The chicks and ducklings came from multiple sources, including hatcheries, feed supply stores, relatives, and bought from websites.
Nearly three-quarters of people who became sick reported having contact with chicks or ducklings in the weeks before the onset of their illness.
Salmonella can cause symptoms such as severe cramps, diarrhea, chills, fever, headaches, bloody stools, nausea, and vomiting. Most symptoms last about four to seven days and can be treated at home.
In some cases, those who get the infection experience serious complications, or symptoms that last weeks or months, or may require hospitalization. Young children, people older than 65, or those with weakened immune systems are especially at risk.
More than 70 salmonella outbreaks have been linked to contact with backyard poultry flocks since 2000, according to the CDC. However, in 2017 the agency reported the largest number of illnesses linked to backyard poultry flocks ever recorded.
Despite the outbreak worsening and sickening more people, the CDC is offering the same advice as the initial update. Avoid touching live poultry or their environment. This is how the bacteria is spread. Sick birds or birds carrying the bacteria may appear healthy and clean and offer no signs of infection.
People who handle live poultry should always thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water after touching livestock or anything in their environment. Do not let children under the age of 5 touch live poultry without adult supervision and ensure children thoroughly wash their hands after handling live poultry.
Never let live poultry in the house, bathroom, or areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored. The current Salmonella poultry-linked investigation is ongoing and the CDC will continue to provide updates as necessary.