Backyard poultry linked to salmonella outbreak


June 23, 2022

Backyard poultry is believed to be the cause of an outbreak of salmonella that has spread to 38 states, including Wyoming.

The outbreak has so far caused around 219 illnesses, 27 hospitalizations and one death. At least four infections have been recorded in this state.

Salmonella infections generally cause diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps within six hours to six days of swallowing the bacteria. Most people recover without medical intervention within a week, but children below the age of five, adults over the age of 65 and people with weakened immune systems may experience more severe illness.

One in four of the recorded infections so far has been in a child under the age of five, says the CDC. The actual number of infections is believed to be much higher, because most people recover without medical care and are not tested.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is actively investigating the outbreak and, in the meantime, has issued guidance to help backyard poultry owners avoid getting sick. Poultry can be carriers of the germs while still appearing healthy and clean, and the germs can easily spread in their habitat.

This includes always washing your hands after touching poultry, eggs or anything in the birds’ habitat; also, consider placing hand sanitizer at your coop. Avoid eating or drinking near your poultry, keep the supplies you use to care for them outside of the house and don’t snuggle the birds.

Kids should be supervised around backyard poultry and the CDC does not recommend allowing children younger than five to touch the birds, as they are more likely to get sick from germs like salmonella.

The CDC has also provided guidance on handling eggs, which includes collecting them often, discarding cracked eggs and using fine sandpaper or a brush to rub off dirt, because washing them in water can pull germs into the egg. Refrigerate to slow the growth of germs and cook until both yolk and white are firm (or until your egg dish has an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit).

The salmonella outbreak is not related to the bird flu outbreak that has also been under investigation in wild birds and poultry. However, the steps to stay healthy around a backyard flock are generally similar.

If you believe you have contracted salmonella, watch out for signs of severe illness and contact your healthcare provider right away: diarrhea and a fever higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit; diarrhea for more than three days; bloody diarrhea; so much vomiting you cannot keep liquids down; signs of dehydration.


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