The Wyoming Department of Health has identified a significant increase in salmonella cases so far this year linked to contact with baby poultry.
Six cases, involving live poultry and residents of Fremont, Natrona, Goshen, Laramie and Converse counties, have been reported so far in 2017. Only one Wyoming case was reported in all of 2016, four in 2015 and 1 in 2014. The Wyoming cases are each connected to larger, multistate outbreaks identified by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Tiffany Lupcho, a WDH epidemiologist, said “Some people who are raising poultry may be unaware of the risk of salmonella infection. Baby chicks can carry harmful germs on their bodies and in their droppings even if they appear healthy and clean.”
Salmonella is a bacteria found in animals, including baby poultry, that can cause diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps and other severe symptoms in humans. While anyone can become ill from salmonella, young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with a weakened immune system are at an increased risk of developing severe symptoms.
Recommended steps to reduce health risks associated with live birds include:
- Don’t let live poultry inside the house, in bathrooms or in areas where food or drink is prepared, served or stored.
- Don’t eat or drink around live poultry, touch them with the mouth or hold closely to the face.
- After touching live poultry, fresh eggs or anything in the area where they are found, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water. If soap and water aren’t available, use hand sanitizer.
- Children younger than 5 years of age, elderly persons or people with weak immune systems shouldn’t handle or touch chicks or other live poultry.
- Clean equipment or materials used in caring for live poultry outside the house, such as cages or feed or water containers.
“Anyone who handles live poultry should know the risks and know what to do to protect themselves from salmonella illness,” Lupcho said.