ATLANTA (CBS) – The Centers for Disease Control is issuing a warning about salmonella cases linked to families raising poultry in their backyards. The agency said caring for chickens, hens, ducks and turkeys has become the leading cause of salmonella infections in the United States.
There were 235 cases reported in the last month, bringing the total number of reported cases to 1,003 in 49 states. There have been 175 hospitalizations and two deaths associated with the outbreak. Thirty-four people are sick in Massachusetts, along with 13 in New Hampshire.
“The ongoing multistate outbreak of salmonella linked to backyard poultry is the largest we’ve seen this year to date,” a spokesperson for the CDC told CBS MoneyWatch in July.
Two-thirds of people who got sick reported contact with chicks or ducklings. The birds can still be carrying Salmonella bacteria even if they appear healthy.
A quarter of those infected are children. Young kids are more likely to interact with the birds and then not wash their hands afterward, according to the CDC.
Salmonella can cause diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps within 12 to 72 hours of exposure.
Poultry owners are advised to use soap and water after handling birds, and not to “kiss backyard poultry or snuggle them and then touch your face or mouth.”
More tips can be found on the CDC’s website here.