As a concerned member of the University of Georgia Veterinary community, the recent report by NPR on the outbreak of Salmonella in Backyard Chickens is concerning. Not only can the birds themselves have health concerns but they could be vectors for the spread to other pets, children and adults. Here is what you need to know:
In October 2016, the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia released a report
that a record high number of salmonella infections have been linked to backyard flocks. So far in 2016, 895 people from 48 states have gotten sick and 209 have been hospitalized. Backyard chickens have been linked directly to one fatality in Mississippi. Want to see a more comprehensive report about Salmonella- check out this CDC report detailed the disease records from 1968-2011 (be aware- it’s 248 pages so don’t click print too quickly)
2. Outbreaks are not just limited to chickens. In May 2016, the CDC also reports a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella related to small turtles. It is important to take precautions when dealing with all domesticated pets.
3. This year saw the largest number of illnesses linked to contact with domesticated pets ever recorded. These outbreaks are a reminder to follow steps to stay safe while caring for and enjoying your animals.
Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching animals that may be at risk for Salmonella
Do not let live poultry inside the house and take precautions with other pets as well.
Do not let younger children handle or touch chicks, ducklings, turtles or other domesticated pets without adult supervision. Young Children are likely to place their hands in their mouths without washing them; therefore, they are at higher risk for animal to human transmission. That is probably why 30% of the infections this year were from children less that 5 years old. (NPR, Oct. 8, 2016)
Spread the word to other animal lovers, parents, and friends about the Salmonella risks and share this article with them! More questions, post a comment below or use the Contact page.