Every state but Rodhe Island and Alaska are reporting cases of Salmonella poisoning. That is forty-eight states with Texas reporting thirty-seven of those cases. Almost six hundred people have fallen ill, over ninety hospitalized and sadly, two have died (one in Tennessee, one in Wyoming). According to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) media release, these outbreaks of Salmonella were related to backyard poultry. In most cases, this is ducks and chickens.
To reduce your risk of contracting Salmonella from these animals, the CDC recommends washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately after touching the animals, their eggs, or anything around their surroundings. Consider keeping hand sanitizer handy. Keep an eye on your kids playing in the backyard especially after holding the chickens, and feeding the ducks. Anyone can fall ill from touching your backyard pet, and their environment, and then touching your mouth or food and indirectly swallowing Salmonella germs. Especially young children are more likely to get sick from germs like Salmonella. All these sweet animals can carry Salmonella even if they look clean!
Handling eggs is just as important! It is recommended to collect the backyard eggs often.
This is to avoid them sitting in a dirty nest. Do not rinse the eggs in water to get the dirt off, rather rub, wipe, or use sandpaper to remove the dirt. Water can pull the germs into the egg. Additionally, if you find the egg is cracked, throw it away! As soon as collected, keep the eggs in the refrigerator to minimize the growth of germs. And when cooking, be sure to cook your egg till both white and yolk are firm, and heat all egg dishes to 160 degrees internally. These steps will minimize the Salmonella growth and prevent the spread of germs to you or your loved ones.
In regard to the recent cases of H5N1 bird flu viruses detected in the US recently, the CDC stated that Salmonella outbreaks are not related. However, those owners with backyard animals should be aware that the steps required to stay healthy around their animals are similar for both diseases.
Salmonella symptoms can include:
- Nausea, from mild to very extreme
- Diarrhea and vomiting, most severe with children and the elderly
- Low-grade fever and headache
- Muscle pain – typically in the stomach
- Fatigue and body chills
- Bloody stool
If you think you are sick from Salmonella or may be affected by the outbreak, contact a health provider.