The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is reporting a new multistate outbreak of Salmonella infections. As of June 2, a total of 219 people infected with one of the outbreak strains have been reported from 38 states, including 10 in Iowa and 11 in Illinois. Sick people range in age from less than one year to 89 years, and of 95 people with information available, 27 (28%) have been hospitalized. One death has been reported in Tennessee.
The actual number of sick people in this outbreak is likely much higher than the number reported and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses. This is because many people recover without medical care and are not tested for Salmonella. Recent illnesses may not yet be reported as it usually takes two to four weeks to determine if a sick person is part of an outbreak.
State and local public health officials are interviewing people about the animals they came into contact with in the week before they became ill. Of the 87 people interviewed, 61 (70%) reported contact with backyard poultry before getting sick. Of 56 people with information available, 16 reported eating eggs from backyard poultry and two reported eating meat from backyard poultry.
To avoid contracting illnesses from backyard poultry, the CDC recommends taking these precautions:
- Wash your hands
- Always wash your hands with soap and water immediately after touching backyard poultry, their eggs, or anything in the area where they live and roam.
- Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available. Consider having hand sanitizer at your coop.
- Be safe around backyard flocks
- Don’t kiss or snuggle backyard poultry, and don’t eat or drink around them. This can spread Salmonella germs to your mouth and make you sick.
- Keep your backyard flock and supplies you use to care for them (like feed containers and shoes you wear in the coop) outside of the house. You should also clean the supplies outside the house.
- Supervise kids around flocks
- Always supervise children around backyard poultry and make sure they wash their hands properly afterward.
- Don’t let children younger than five years touch chicks, ducklings, or other backyard poultry. Young children are more likely to get sick from germs like Salmonella.
- Handle eggs safely
- Collect eggs often. Eggs that sit in the nest can become dirty or break.
- Throw away cracked eggs. Germs on the shell can more easily enter the egg through a cracked shell.
- Rub off dirt on eggs with fine sandpaper, a brush, or a cloth. Don’t wash eggs because colder water can pull germs into the egg.
- Refrigerate eggs to keep them fresh and slow the growth of germs.
- Cook eggs until both the yolk and white are firm and cook egg dishes to an internal temperature of 160°F to kill all germs.
Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these severe symptoms:
- Diarrhea and a fever higher than 102°F
- Diarrhea for more than 3 days that is not improving
- Bloody diarrhea
- So much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down
- Signs of dehydration, such as:
- Not peeing much
- Dry mouth and throat
- Feeling dizzy when standing up
For more information on the outbreak, click here.