According to public health officials, the ongoing salmonella outbreak in the United States, which is associated with backyard poultry farms, has sickened over 1,000 people, hospitalized 175, and killed two across 49 states.
On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it reported 235 cases of salmonella in August, which were associated with raising chickens, hens, turkeys, and ducks. The numbers are getting close to the numbers in 2017’s toll of 1,120 salmonella cases, while one died from contracting the infection through backyard poultry.
In July, a CDC spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch, “The ongoing multistate outbreak of salmonella linked to backyard poultry is the largest we’ve seen this year to date.”
Nearly 24 percent of the cases this year involve children.
On July 30, Dr. Megin Nichols, an epidemiologist in the CDC’s outbreak response and prevention branch, said, “Young kids are more likely to kiss, cuddle or snuggle with poultry and then may not wash their hands as thoroughly,” in a phone interview.
According to the American Pet Producers Association, more than 10 million Americans had backyard poultry in 2018, while many households had younger children.
People who have backyard poultry are advised going through the guidelines set by the CDC in order to prevent contracting salmonella infection.
The CDC recommends washing your hands thoroughly after touching chickens. More importantly, one should eat or drink while they are around the flock. Households with young kids should be more careful, as children often like to touch chickens with bare hands that come in close contact with their mouths, making them vulnerable to the infection. Dr. Nichols explained that many poultry owners are not aware of the fact that animals carry germs that could cause severe infection. The epidemiologist also explained that most people think their animals cannot carry salmonella because they are healthy. The reality is salmonella is present chickens’ gut, which does not harm them.