Backyard Chicken Exposure Linked to Salmonella Outbreak

Salmonella and Chicken: Salmonellosis is Caused by Ingestion of Salmonella Bacteria
Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Backyard Poultry ©

Have you hugged your chicken today? Backyard Poultry Linked to Salmonella Outbreak.

Chicken is the most often eaten meat in America, but for some people – buying chicken packaged and ready for purchase in the grocery store is not the only interaction they desire to have with these feathered fowl. Over the past month or so there have been more than 215 cases of salmonella linked to live poultry, or, as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) refers to it, backyard poultry. And even more than that – almost 280 reported cases of illness. Of these individuals falling ill, most were lucky enough to deal with major discomfort, but ultimately, be treated and able to return to their regular lives. However, roughly 40 unfortunate individuals were hospitalized, dealing with much more extreme and even life-threatening symptoms. Thankfully, no deaths have been reported.

Food Safety Advocate and contributor Erika Beach
Food Safety Author Erika Beach, a resident of Seattle Washington, working to promote healthy living.

Not rare, the CDC reporting there have been a dozen salmonella outbreaks attributed to backyard poultry since 2011, these episodes can be prevented. Officials have even gone as far as to warn against showing affection to these often-cute critters; chicks and ducklings waddling about in the grass, as a quick kiss or hug with one can easily spread the sickness causing bacteria to the well-meaning. Poultry can carry salmonella on any part of its body, transmitting it to humans by way of the mouth or by tracking it indoors on hands and feet. Although salmonella is most often tied to food poisoning- improperly handled or undercooked chicken, as an example, humans can inadvertently ingest contaminated feces by not thoroughly washing hands or removing footwear when entering the house.

Chicks and ducklings purchased from websites, agricultural stores and straight from hatcheries are all potential culprits in this latest outbreak. As many as 41 states have reported cases. As with many illnesses, children and the elderly are at greater risk of becoming sick from salmonella. And, in fact, one-third of reported cases are children under the age of 5. Not only do the young, the old, and the immunocompromised most easily succumb to illness from salmonella, but they can experience the most extreme of symptoms. Most typically, symptoms of salmonella can mirror those of other common illness. Symptoms can include:

  • Nausea, from mild to very extreme
  • Diarrhea and vomiting, most sever with children and the elderly
  • Low grade fever and headache
  • Muscle pain – typically in the stomach
  • Fatigue and body chills
  • Bloody stool

Because these symptoms can range in severity, can be indicative of a salmonella outbreak or other food-borne illness outbreak, or even the flu, it is best to consult with a medical professional for diagnosis. A stool culture is the best way to be properly diagnosed with Salmonella. Over one million Americans will become sick with salmonella each year. This staggering number is both unnecessary and easy to reduce. It is possible to enjoy the company of these fuzzy friends in our backyard if we just use safe handling and common sense.



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