MDHHS: Spring chicks could carry harmful bacteria - WNEM TV 5

MDHHS: Spring chicks could carry harmful bacteria

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Source: MDHHS Source: MDHHS

Those baby chicks may be cute and fuzzy, but they could also carry a potentially serious bacterium.

Health experts at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services are warning parents about the potential for baby poultry to carry Salmonella.

Salmonella is a common bacteria found in the droppings of poultry. The germs contaminate feathers, feet and beaks of birds, as well as their cages, coops and environment.

“Washing your hands thoroughly before and after handling chicks and other poultry protects both you and your family from the risk of Salmonella, and also helps keep the birds healthy,” said MDHHS Chief Medical Executive Dr. Eden Wells. “Even birds appearing cute, healthy, and clean can carry bacteria that can make people sick.” 

During spring, live baby poultry are often displayed in stores. Children are then able to reach in and touch the bird, which could expose them to the harmful bacteria.

Salmonella can cause diarrhea, vomiting, fever and/or abdominal cramps lasting four to seven days or more. Infections can be especially serious for the very young, the very old, and those with weak immune systems, according to experts.

In 2016, there were nine nationwide outbreaks of Salmonella illness linked to contact with live poultry, causing illness in 911 people in 48 states. 

Michigan reported 55 cases, of which 45 percent were in children.

To protect your family, health experts suggest the following recommendations: 

  • Children younger than five years old, older adults or people with weak immune systems should not handle or touch chicks, ducklings or other poultry because they are more likely to become severely ill. 
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching the birds or anything in their environment. Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.
  • Use hand sanitizer until you can wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.  
  • Always keep poultry away from areas where food or drink is prepared, served or stored, such as kitchens or outdoor patios.
  • Do not kiss the chicks.
  • Do not put anything to or touch your mouth, eat or drink after handling poultry.
  • Do not keep live poultry inside the house where people live, eat or sleep.
  • Do not give live baby poultry as gifts to young children.
  • Stay outdoors when cleaning any equipment associated with raising or caring for poultry, such as cages, feed, water containers and other materials.

For more information on Salmonella, click here

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