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PHD: Salmonella outbreak linked to backyard poultry

| July 26, 2022 12:14 PM

Panhandle Health District (PHD) is reporting four cases of salmonella that have occurred over the last three months in the PHD jurisdiction linked to backyard poultry. These cases are linked to a nation-wide outbreak that is ongoing. This year in the United States, there have been 572 cases of salmonella linked to backyard poultry in 48 states.

The cases in the Panhandle have all occurred among minors under the age of 16 and three out of the four needed to be hospitalized due to the illness. All of the cases were exposed from chickens purchased in spring of this year from suppliers in the north Idaho area.

“We understand it’s tempting to want to kiss and snuggle pet chicks, but it’s important to establish safe interactions that will keep your entire family safe,” said Malia Nogle, epidemiologist for PHD. “After being alerted to a case of salmonella, we often discover that kissing, snuggling, and allowing pet poultry to run freely within a home was common practice. Unfortunately, these practices increase the likelihood of disease.”

Most cases of salmonella in the United States are caused by food including chicken, beef, pork, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and some processed foods that have been contaminated with feces from an infected animal. Salmonella germs can also be carried by backyard poultry, such as chickens and ducks, even if they look healthy and clean. People can get sick from touching their backyard poultry, or anything in their environment, and then touching their mouth or food and swallowing Salmonella germs. The best way to protect yourself from salmonella is to wash your hands immediately after handling poultry, washing your fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating, cooking meats to the appropriate temperature, and following other safe food practices.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most people with a Salmonella infection experience:

• Diarrhea (that can be bloody)

• Fever

• Stomach cramps

Some people may also have nausea, vomiting, or a headache. Symptoms usually start within 6 hours — 6 days after infection and last 4-7 days. Salmonella is rarely spread from person-to-person. Although, if you have a Salmonella infection, you should not prepare food or drinks for others until you no longer have diarrhea.

Some people are more likely to be infected with salmonella or become severely ill, including children under 5 years old, infants (children younger than 12 months) who are not breastfed, adults aged 65 and older, and people with a weakened immune system.

Following these tips can help you stay safe when it comes to poultry pets:

• Wash your hands thoroughly with running water and soap after touching pets and other animals, or their food, water, poop, belongings (such as toys and bowls), or habitats (such as beds, cages, coops, stalls, and barns).

• Don’t put your hands in your mouth after petting or playing with animals. Keep other items that have come into contact with animals out of your mouth.

• Don’t kiss or snuggle your pet poultry.

• Never eat or drink around your animals or in areas where they live and roam.

• Clean your pet’s bed and its contents (such as food and water bowls) outdoors. If you must clean your pet’s habitat indoors, use a bathtub or large sink that can be cleaned and disinfected. Avoid using a kitchen sink, if possible.

• Take your pet to the veterinarian regularly. By keeping your pet healthy, you also help to keep yourself and your family healthy.

For more information about Salmonella outbreaks in the United States, please visit: www.cdc.gov/salmonella/backyardpoultry-06-22/index.html.

Panhandle Health District provides over 40 different public health programs to families, individuals and organizations in northern Idaho. From food and drinking water safety to health education and disease control, public health services are critical to ensure our community is a safe and healthy place to live, work and play.

The PHD team is made up of nurses, nutritionists, environmental health specialists, health educators and many other dedicated professionals with a common goal to deliver vital public health services.

Panhandle Health District is one of seven health districts in the state of Idaho.

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