This salmonella outbreak is dangerous for you and your pets, says the CDC

a pine goldfinch on an evergreen branch

Photo: Steve Byland (Shutterstock)

You probably already knew that birds like chickens can carry Salmonella bacteria, that’s why we cook chicken and try not to eat too lots of raw cookie dough (well, that and the dangers of raw flour). But the CDC is now warning that there is an outbreak related to songbirds, and you should be careful if you have a birdbath or bird feeder in your garden.

The outbreak has sickened 19 people out of eight states, thankfully no deaths. Salmonella Symptoms include diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps, and can start within six hours and six days after ingesting the bacteria. (This could mean eating contaminated food or touching your mouth with contaminated hands.) People under the age of five years old, over 65 or be weakened immune systems they are at risk of developing more serious or even life-threatening symptoms.

What you can do

The CDC recommends not touching or feeding birds with bare hands and washing your hands after handling birds (including dead ones) or handling a bird. feeder or waterer for birds.

Pets can also be affected, so they also recommend keeping pets away from drinking fountains and feeders, including the area below them. You should also wash your hands after handling pet food, bowls, toys, or after collecting their feces, even if you used a bag to do so.

Bird Bird feeders and waterers should be cleaned weekly, says the CDC. This will help animals and humans stay healthy. But don’t clean them in your kitchen sink; do homework outside if possible. Wash the feeder with warm soapy water and then immerse it in a bleach solution (nine parts of water to one part of bleach) for 10 minutes. Let it dry before refilling and then wash your hands.

If you find a dead or sick bird

If you find a sick bird, call your local wildlife rehabilitator. If you find a dead bird, ask your state wildlife agency or game commission if they want you to report it. (Some agencies will test dead birds if they are concerned about an outbreak in the area.) Read more about what to do here at the CDC outbreak page.


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