2600 sick, 5 dead over 14 years: Stop kissing chicks

Backyard poultry flocks have increased in popularity concurrent with an increase in live poultry–associated salmonellosis (LPAS) outbreaks. Better understanding of practices that contribute to this emerging public health issue is needed.

chicken-south-parkWe reviewed outbreak reports to describe the epidemiology of LPAS outbreaks in the United States, examine changes in trends, and inform prevention campaigns. LPAS outbreaks were defined as ≥2 culture-confirmed human Salmonella infections linked to live poultry contact. Outbreak data were obtained through multiple databases and a literature review.

During 1990–2014, a total of 53 LPAS outbreaks were documented, involving 2,630 illnesses, 387 hospitalizations, and 5 deaths. Median patient age was 9 years (range <1 to 92 years). Chick and duckling exposure were reported by 85% and 38% of case-patients, respectively. High-risk practices included keeping poultry inside households (46% of case-patients) and kissing birds (13%). Comprehensive One Health strategies are needed to prevent illnesses associated with live poultry.

Outbreaks of human Salmonella infections associated with live poultry, United States, 1990-2014

Emerg. Infect. Dis., Volume 22, Number 10 – October 2016 [ahead of print], DOI: 10.3201/eid2210.150765

Colin Basler, Thai-An Nguyen, Tara C. Anderson, Thane Hancock, Casey Barton Behravesh


Michigan Salmonella infections rise after poultry contact

I didn’t know Michiganians was an actual word, but I’m sure Dr.-PhD-from-Ann-Arbor-and Tom-Brady-was QB-when-I-was-there-and-isn’t-he-dreamy will set me straight.

Ttom.brady.poultryhe Detroit News reports that more Michiganians are reporting salmonella infections after contact with live baby poultry, state health officials announced Monday.

There have been 20 cases of salmonellosis with live chick or duckling exposure reported throughout the state since March 2, but these numbers are expected to rise, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement. Six people were hospitalized; the reported cases were associated with individuals ranging from younger than 12 months old to 70 years.

“Investigators from several local health departments with salmonellosis cases have visited the feed and farm stores to collect environmental samples for testing in jurisdictions where ill residents purchased baby poultry,” state officials said. “These environmental samples have been tested at the MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories and a number of samples are positive for Salmonella; some of which match the outbreak strain. Testing and a traceback investigation are still in process. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been notified.”

People become infected with salmonella when handling poultry or their cages and coops. Germs can be found on the hands, shoes and clothing of those who handle the birds or work or play in areas where they live and roam. Young children are especially at risk for illness because their immune systems are still developing.

181 sick with Salmonella from chicks

The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that public health, veterinary, and agriculture officials in many states and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) are investigating four multistate outbreaks of human Salmonella infections linked to contact with live poultry.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs of June 29, 2015, 181 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella have been reported from 40 states.

33 ill people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback findings have linked these four outbreaks of human Salmonella infections to contact with chicks, ducklings, and other live poultry from multiple hatcheries.

Eighty-two (86%) of the 95 ill people who were interviewed reported contact with live poultry in the week before their illness began.

CDC’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) laboratory conducted antibiotic resistance testing on Salmonella isolates collected from seven ill people infected with one of the outbreak strains.

All seven isolates were susceptible to all antibiotics tested on the NARMS panel.

Antibiotic resistance testing continues on additional isolates collected from ill people infected with the outbreak strains.

Backyard flock owners should take steps to protect themselves and their families:

Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where the birds live and roam.

Do not let live poultry inside the house.


Handwashing is never enough: 34 sick with Salmonella from chicks in Canada

Sorenne told me about plans to have a live animal farm with reptiles and baby chicks established at her school.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou see a cute chick, I see a Salmonella factory.

The Public Health Agency of Canada reports an outbreak of Salmonella infections in Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan with cases of human illness related to contact with live baby poultry originating from a hatchery in Alberta.

The risk to Canadians is low.

No idea how they came up with that statement, and of course, no info on the age of those affected (I’ll put my money on little kids).

More hatching chick associated salmonellosis

You see a cute baby chick, I see a Salmonella factory.

The other parents hate me at school.

borat.chickenScott Wesse writes in his Worms & Germs blog that the salmonellosis outbreak in the US associated with hatching chicks continues to expand. The outbreak, ironically associated with Mt. Healthy Hatcheries in Ohio, has now sickened at least 344 people in 42 US states and Puerto Rico with a variety of Salmonella serotypes (S. Infants, S. Newport and S. Hadar). Showing no sign of abating, another 42 cases were identified in the past 6 weeks.

As is often the case, young people are more often affected, with 33% of sick individuals being 10 years of age or younger. 32% of infected individuals have been hospitalized.

Unfortunately, the regulatory response is most often giving places like this guidance as opposed to mandatory measures. However, this is really a ‘buyer beware’ situation, where people purchasing hatching chicks need to be aware of the high risks associated with young poultry and take appropriate measures. While Salmonella-free eggs and chicks would be ideal, it’s not particularly realistic, and people need to be proactive and listen to established infection control practices, which include keeping kids <5 years of age away from young poultry.

Maybe schools will pay attention to this when they’re planning their annual (and often poorly managed) hatching chick activities.

Stop kissing chicks; more Salmonella from backyard chicks

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that as of May 27, 2014, a total of 126 persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Infantis or Salmonella Newport have been identified in 26 states. Since the last update on May 8, 2014, a total of 66 new ill persons have been reported from 18 states: Alabama (4), Colorado (1), Georgia (5), Illinois (1), Indiana (1), Kentucky (2), Maine (4), Montana (1), New Hampshire (1), New Mexico (1), New York (6), North Carolina (11), Ohio (7), Pennsylvania (7), South Carolina (3), Tennessee (5), Virginia (5), and West Virginia (1).

baby.chickAmong the persons who reported the date they became ill, illnesses began between and February 4, 2014 and May 15, 2014. Ill persons range in age from younger than one year to 95 years, and the median age is 28 years. Thirty-nine percent of ill persons are 10 years of age or younger.  Fifty percent of ill persons are female. Among 81 ill persons with available information, 28 (35%) have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations conducted by officials in local, state, and federal public health agencies indicate that contact with live poultry sourced from Mt. Healthy Hatcheries in Ohio is the likely source of this outbreak of Salmonella infections.

Interviews with newly reported ill persons about their exposures in the week before becoming ill continue to be conducted. To date, 72 (82%) of 88 ill persons interviewed reported contact with live poultry (e.g., chicks, chickens, ducks, ducklings) before becoming ill.  Eight (11%) of 72 reported contact with only adult chickens and 5 (7%) of 72 reported contact with only ducklings.  The median time from acquiring live poultry and illness onset was 24 days, with a range of 3 to 468 days. Samples from live poultry and the environments where the poultry live and roam were collected from an ill person’s home in Vermont. Testing of these samples yielded one of the outbreak strains of Salmonella Infantis. These birds were sourced from Mt. Healthy Hatcheries.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMt. Healthy Hatcheries sells birds to many different retailers. Fifty-two (90%) of 58 ill persons with available purchase information reported purchasing live poultry from seven different feed or farm store companies in multiple states. Ill persons reported purchasing live poultry for backyard flocks to produce eggs or meat, or to keep as pets.

Contact with live poultry can be a source of human Salmonella infections. Many ill persons in this outbreak reported bringing the live poultry into their homes, and others reported kissing or cuddling with the live poultry. These behaviors increase a person’s risk of a Salmonella infection from contact with live poultry. People can get sick even if they do not have direct contact with the live poultry, but touch items and places that have been contaminated in the poultry’s environment. Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Adults should supervise hand washing for young children. These recommendations are important and apply to all live poultry regardless of the age of the birds or where they were purchased.

Mail-order hatcheries, agricultural feed stores, and others who sell or display chicks, ducklings and other live poultry should provide health-related information to owners and potential purchasers of these birds prior to the point of purchase. This should include information about the risk of acquiring a Salmonella infection from contact with live poultry.

‘I wasn’t really informed’ spring chicks can bring Salmonella

Springtime and the approaching Easter holiday are causing concern among health officials.

This is the time of year people tend to buy chicks and ducklings for their backyard flocks. As a result, the number of people who become infected with salmonella spikes.

borat.chicken“While it’s fun for families to get baby birds, the bacteria they shed can make people sick,” said Dr. Kathy Lofy, Washington health officer, in a news release. “This is especially true for young children, who account for the largest proportion of live poultry-related salmonella cases.”

Last year, 19 people in Washington were part of a multistate outbreak of salmonella associated with handling live poultry. Thirteen of the cases involved children younger than 10.

One of those children was Liz Wilson of Yacolt.

Liz, who was 3 at the time, became infected with salmonella in April 2013 after her family purchased nine chicks and two ducklings from a local farm store.

The family, which includes nine kids ranging in age from 4 to 16, purchased the chicks to raise for eggs, said Liz’s mother, Denise Kaski. Her husband, David Kaski, had chickens in the past and knew what it took to raise the birds, but they weren’t aware of the salmonella risk, Denise Kaski said.

“I wasn’t really informed,” she said.

infection. “The first thing a very small child is going to want to do is give these cute little chickies a little kiss,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County Public Health director and health officer. “That’s not a good thing to do.”

On April 4, 2013, about a week after the family brought the chicks home, Liz became lethargic, started vomiting, had bloody diarrhea and wouldn’t chicken.south.parkeat. She couldn’t even keep down what she was given through a feeding tube that is used to supplement her diet, Kaski said.

Liz was taken by ambulance to Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel in Portland. As doctors ran tests, Kaski started Googling Liz’s symptoms. She came across information about salmonella and told Liz’s doctor the family recently purchased chicks.

Liz has no lasting effects from the infection, but Kaski knows the situation could have been worse. The family got rid of the chickens, and Kaski warns others about Salmonella and the importance of hand-washing.

“I don’t want anybody else to have to get sick like that,” she said.

158 sick; Salmonella from chicks

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that in early 2013, four clusters of human Salmonella infections were identified through PulseNet, the national molecular subtyping network for foodborne bacteria. Many of the ill persons in these four clusters reported contact with live poultry, primarily chicks and ducklings, from a single mail-order hatchery; therefore, these investigations were OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAmerged. During March 4–October 9, 2013, a total of 158 persons infected with outbreak strains of Salmonella serotypes Infantis, Lille, Newport, and Mbandaka were reported from 30 states.

Forty-two percent (65 of 155) of ill persons were aged ≤10 years, and 28% (29 of 103) were hospitalized; no deaths were reported. Eighty-six percent (80 of 93) of ill persons who were interviewed reported live poultry contact in the week before illness onset. Sixty-nine percent (44 of 64) of ill persons who completed a supplemental live poultry questionnaire reported chick exposure, and 40% (26 of 64) reported duckling exposure. Seventy-five percent (33 of 44) of respondents reported live poultry exposure at their home; 59% (26 of 44) specifically reported keeping poultry inside their home.

Of the 40 ill persons who had recently purchased young poultry, the average time from purchase of poultry to illness onset was 21 days (range = 2–52 days); 48% (19 of 40) ill persons reported illness onset within 2 weeks of poultry purchase. Among persons with purchase information, 94% (62 of 66) reported buying young poultry sourced from a single mail-order hatchery in Ohio.

This outbreak investigation identified an Ohio hatchery as the likely source of the outbreak. This hatchery previously has been linked with multiple, large human Salmonella outbreaks. These recurring outbreaks highlight the need for comprehensive Salmonella prevention and control programs to be implemented and maintained at this mail-order hatchery and its associated breeder farms. Mail-order hatcheries and their source flocks should comply with management and sanitation practices outlined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Poultry Improvement Plan.

Additional owner education is necessary because healthy birds can still transmit Salmonella to humans. Educational material warning customers and advising them on how to reduce the risk for Salmonella infection from live poultry should be distributed by farm/feed stores and mail-order hatcheries with all live poultry purchases.

224 sick mainly kids; more chicks more Salmonella

A total of 224 persons have been infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium in 34 states, up from 146. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control:

• 26% of ill persons have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported;

• 62% of ill persons are children 10 years of age or younger;

• epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback findings have linked this outbreak of human Salmonella Typhimurium infections to contact with chicks, ducklings, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand other live baby poultry purchased from multiple feed stores and sourced from multiple mail-order hatcheries;

• investigations are ongoing to determine the source of the live poultry linked to this outbreak;

• this outbreak of human Salmonella Typhimurium infections is not related to the current outbreak of human Salmonella Infantis, Lille, Newport, and Mbandaka infections linked to live poultry; and,

• among the persons who reported the date they became ill, illnesses began between and March 4, 2013 and May 20, 2013. 

Petting zoos, chicks continue to sicken

As a Vermont infant was confirmed as the latest salmonellosis victim after coming in contact with baby poultry, others are paying more attention to the risk of zoonotic disease – human contact with animals of all sorts – and vice-versa.

America Now reports that rodeos, petting zoos and fairgrounds with OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAanimal exhibits are the prime places where people contract E. coli.

This is what happened to 5-year-old Hannah Roberts and she spent several weeks recuperating at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.

She and 60 other people got very ill after coming in contact with E. coli bacteria at a county fair in Shelby, North Carolina.

Nearly two dozen of the victims were children like Hannah who visited the petting zoo area.

Tracy Roberts says it was extremely hard seeing her daughter suffer.

“Probably the first night in ICU is the very lowest [moment] I had,” Roberts recalls. “The next day, though, we got the first dialysis treatment, and then that evening, she started perking up.”

Sadly, this is what happened to Josh and Jessica Lefevers’ 2-year-old son, Gage.

He got very sick after visiting the same petting zoo where Hannah visited. Doctors say Gage likely came in contact with E. coli and he died a few days later.

“He was awesome. I could have the worst day in the world and as soon as I came home, he’d make me laugh no matter what,” Josh
Lefevers said of his son.

To a child, little compares to the thrill of coming face-to-face with farm animals.

Dr. Stephen Keener is the medical director in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. He says these exhibits can be dangerous breeding courtlynn.petting.zoogrounds for E. coli contamination because the bacteria lives in the guts of some farm animals and their waste.

In the Vermont case, the Vermont Health Department said the child’s illness was caused by the same strain of salmonella discovered in the chicks that were recently purchased from a local feed store.

The Vermont Health Department offers these tips to preventing Salmonella infection:

• Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live baby poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available. Supervise hand washing for young children.

• Don’t let younger children, especially those younger than 5 years, handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry.

• Don’t snuggle or kiss the birds, touch your mouth, or eat or drink around live baby poultry.

• Don’t let live baby poultry inside the house, in bathrooms, or especially in areas such as kitchens or outdoor patios where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored. Keep live poultry outside.

• Don’t eat or drink in the area where the birds live or roam.

• Don’t clean any equipment or materials associated with raising or caring for live poultry, such as cages or feed or water containers, inside the house.

• Don’t give live baby poultry as gifts to young children.