More than 200 people across the country, including 11 in Illinois, have become ill after coming in contact with poultry in backyard flocks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Of the 219 infected with salmonella, one in four have been children under age 5, while 27 have been hospitalized and one person has died in Tennessee.
Backyard chickens and ducks can carry salmonella germs even if they look healthy and clean, according to federal health officials, who say these germs can spread easily to anything in areas where poultry live and roam.
People can get sick from touching their backyard chickens or ducks or anything in their environment and then touching their mouth or food and swallowing the salmonella germs.
Most people develop diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps within six days of being exposed to salmonella, and symptoms can last up to a week, according to officials, who say most people recover without treatment. Kids younger than 5, adults older than 65 and people with compromised immune systems are more likely to have severe illness.
Health officials advise thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds immediately after touching live poultry, their supplies or collecting eggs.
Don’t let kids under age 5 touch the birds, including chicks and ducklings, or anything in the area where they live and roam. This protects kids, whose immune systems are still developing, from getting sick, according to officials, who say that kids are more likely to put items in their mouths or not wash their hands fully.
Officials also advise keeping birds and supplies outside of the home to prevent germs from spreading in the house and using a dedicated pair of shoes or boots for your coop.
The salmonella outbreak is not related to recent cases of bird flu detected in wild birds and poultry, according to the CDC. Salmonella outbreaks among backyard flocks occur annually and coincide with an increase in baby poultry purchases, beginning in the spring.
In 2021, across the country 1,135 people were sickened from backyard poultry, according to federal health officials.
For more information, visit the CDC’s website.