Hundreds of people across the United States have become ill with Salmonella, and the cause is contact with backyard chickens.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of July 28, 938 people from 48 states are infected with Salmonella.
Thirty-three percent of those people are hospitalized, and one death was reported in Oklahoma. Twenty-eight percent of those who became ill are children under the age of five.
In interviews with 409 sick people, 74% reported exposure to chickens or ducks purchased from agricultural stores, websites and from hatcheries.
Researchers tested backyard chicken coops in Kentucky and Oregon and found three Salmonella outbreak strains.
According to the CDC, chickens can carry Salmonella bacteria, even if they look healthy and clean and show no signs of disease. Those following exposure to poultry should take the following precautions:
- Wash your hands after touching backyard chickens, their eggs, or anything in the area where they live and roam.
- Do not kiss the backyard chickens or resort to them and then touch your face or mouth.
- Do not maintain backyard poultry indoors, especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored.
- Set a pair of shoes to wear while caring for the hens and keep those shoes outside the house.
- Do not eat nor drink where poultry live or roam.
- Be outside while cleaning any equipment or materials used for feeding or caring for poultry such as cages and containers for feed or water.
- Always look after the children around the chicken and when they wash their hands.
- Children under the age of 5 years of age should not touch or release chickens, ducks, or other hens, as young children are more likely to become ill.
Those dealing with eggs should do so safely:
- Often collecting eggs. Nesting eggs can become dirty or break.
- Tossing cracked eggs. Germs on the shell can enter the egg more easily though a cracked shell.
- Cleaning the eggs with fine sandpaper, a brush or a cloth.
- Do not wash hot, fresh eggs as cold water can pull germs into the egg.
- Refrigerate eggs after collection to maintain freshness and slow germ growth.
- Cook the eggs until both the yolk and white are firm. Egg dishes should be cooked at a temperature of 160 ° F or higher. Raw and undercooked eggs may contain Salmonella bacteria that can make you sick.