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Published on Oct 18, 2016
An increasing number of people are choosing to raise live poultry in their backyards in both rural and urban communities as more towns and cities change ordinances to allow the practice. Having poultry in the backyard can be an enjoyable experience for many while also producing food for families.
However, handling live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam can sometimes make people sick. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it's common for chickens, ducks and other poultry to carry Salmonella, a type of bacteria that naturally lives in the intestines of poultry and many other animals. While it usually doesn't make the birds sick, Salmonella can cause serious illness when it is passed to people.
In just the first 7 months of 2016, the CDC investigated eight multistate outbreaks of human Salmonella infections linked to live poultry in backyard flocks. Over 600 people were infected in 45 states with more than 100 people hospitalized. Almost a third all of the infected people were children 5 years old or younger.
Salmonella can be carried in the droppings and on the bodies of live poultry. The bacteria can get on cages, coops, feed and water dishes, hay, plants and soil in the area where the birds live and roam. These germs also can get on the hands, shoes and clothes of people who handle the birds or work or play where they live and roam.
The CDC reports that people become infected with Salmonella when they put their hands or other things that have been in contact with live poultry in or around their mouth. Young children are more likely to get sick because their immune systems are still developing and they are more likely to put their fingers or other items into their mouths. Salmonella on people’s hands can spread easily to other people or surfaces, which is why it's important to wash hands immediately after touching poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam.
These are just a few things to know about backyard poultry and Salmonella exposure risks. To learn more about this or other environmental, health, safety or occupational issues, please visit the websites shown below.